Scott Walker will sign fast-tracked right-to-work legislation in Wisconsin

Unions already hate Scott Walker as much as they possibly could, so there is not that much downside in the governor of Wisconsin’s decision to sign legislation that will ensure workers the right to decline union membership. This was not something the governor wanted as a priority. Scott Bauer of the AP reports:

Gov. Scott Walker backed a surprise move Friday by Republican legislators to quickly vote on making Wisconsin a right-to-work state, an action the likely 2016 presidential candidate initially said should be delayed to avoid re-igniting massive pro-union protests.

Walker had expressed concerns to leaders in the GOP-controlled Legislature that rushing the divisive proposal could distract from his agenda, and in September — during the heat of his re-election campaign — he said he wouldn't support it this session. But after a series of private meetings with lawmakers, followed by an announcement that the bill would be voted on next week, Walker's spokeswoman said he would sign it.

Walker already took on and won a battle with the state’s public employee unions, ending the practice of forced collective bargaining, and allowing employees to opt out of union membership. That has proven a huge success, lowering the costs to taxpayers and allowing employees to escape the forced collection of dues they do not want to pay. A large share of those dues historically have been laundered and turned into political contributions to Democrats, regardless of the poltiicala sympathies of the members paying those dues.

The right-to-work legislation is likely to move forward quickly. Tim Jones of Bloomberg reports:

Senator Scott Fitzgerald, the chamber’s Republican leader, told a Milwaukee radio station today that he’ll push for a vote on a yet-to-be-introduced bill that says private-sector workers couldn’t be required to join unions or pay dues as a condition of employment. Republicans control both houses of the legislature.

“We’re ready to go,” Fitzgerald told WTMJ-AM radio in Milwaukee. “Certainly we’ve had enough discussions that I’m confident the governor would sign it.”

Mark Peters of the Wall Street Journal adds this timeline:

The GOP-controlled legislature is calling for what’s known as an extraordinary session next week, helping leaders move the bill more easily through the Senate and Assembly. The Senate is expected to take up the legislation next week, followed by the assembly the first week in March.

“My experience as leader is when you have the votes, you go to the floor — you don’t wait around,” said Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican.

I have long believed that the GOP should recognize that the movement is an adjunct of the Democratic Party, and go after it the way that Democrats go after their political adversaries. I have no problem at all with workers voluntarily joining unions – after all, that is part of the freedom of assembly guaranteed by the Constitution. But forced union membership and dues violate those rights.

The one potential downside here is that the remaining private sector unions are having second thoughts about the Obama administration, thanks mostly to Obama’s threat to veto the Keystone Pipeline, which would generate many union jobs. But that is a mere hope, and frankly private sector unions are already declining, and not much of a force for the future.

I think a presidential candidate who took on union abuses, and pointed out how the Democrats are in the pocket of unions – especially government employee unions – would have appeal to the vast majority of voters who are not government union members, but who have to pay for their inflated salaries and benefits, which far outpace what private sector employees earn.

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