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Wisconsin Becomes Right To Work State

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 9, 2015 9:00PM

Photo credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

While Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner continues to beat the drum for "right to work" laws in Illinois, America's Dairyland became the 25th state to enact such laws Monday.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed into law legislation banning private sector workers from paying "fair share" labor fees. The law, which was fast-tracked and approved by Wisconsin Republicans last week, comes four years after Walker and the Wisconsin Assembly gutted the collective bargaining power of public sector unions.

Walker, a prospective 2016 GOP presidential candidate, signed the bill into law at a Milwaukee factory and touted it as another example of leveling the playing field for businesses against labor.

"This sends a powerful message across the country and across the world," Walker said. "'Wisconsin is Open For Business' now is more than just a slogan. It's a way of doing business."

Opponents of the new law called it another attack on organized labor that will ultimately affect all workers. Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee executive director Michael Sargeant said the move was intended with bolstering Walker's presidential hopes in mind. “It’s designed to depress wages and to help them win elections in the future,” Sargeant said. "That's what this is about."

Similar right to work laws have been enacted in Indiana and Michigan, continuing an anti-labor trend in the Midwest. Last month, Illinois Gov. Rauner signed an executive order banning fair share fees, claiming they were a violation of the First Amendment. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, and Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger said they would not enforce Rauner's order. Labor unions filed suit in federal court last week challenging Rauner's order.