Dear Commons Community,
Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed into law yesterday a right-to-work law that gives workers the freedom to choose whether or not they want to join a union. Wisconsin is the 25th state to do so. As reported in the New York Times:
“For decades, states across the South, Great Plains and Rocky Mountains enacted policies that prevented organized labor from forcing all workers to pay union dues or fees. But the industrial Midwest resisted.
Those days are gone. After a wave of Republican victories across the region in 2010, Indiana and then Michigan enacted so-called right-to-work laws that supporters said strengthened those states economically, but that labor leaders asserted left behind a trail of weakened unions.
Now it is Wisconsin’s turn. On Monday, Gov. Scott Walker — who in 2011 succeeded in slashing collective bargaining rights for most public sector workers — signed a bill that makes his state the 25th to adopt the policy and has given new momentum to the business-led movement, its supporters say.
“This freedom-to-work legislation will give workers the freedom to choose whether or not they want to join a union, and employers another compelling reason to consider expanding or moving their business to Wisconsin,” Mr. Walker said…
“It’s designed to depress wages and to help them win elections in the future,” Michael Sargeant, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, said of passage of the measure, almost entirely on party lines, in Wisconsin. “That’s what this is about.”
President Obama issued a statement calling the measure “a new anti-worker law,” and criticizing Mr. Walker directly. “Wisconsin is a state built by labor, with a proud pro-worker past,” he said. “So even as its governor claims victory over working Americans, I’d encourage him to try and score a victory for working Americans — by taking meaningful action to raise their wages and offer them the security of paid leave.”