Madison, wis. – More than a dozen Wisconsin labor leaders said that anti-union legislation supported by Gov. Scott Walker is being rushed through the Legislature to discourage discussion.
"If right-to-work was any good for this state, we wouldn't see it being tried to pass this quickly, with limited debate in an attempt to circumvent democracy," Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, said Monday during a news conference in Madison.
Republican leaders said Friday that they planned to call up the bill this week and union and other groups plan protests in Madison for Tuesday and Wednesday. The confrontation is set as Walker, 47, looks to build his standing ahead of a likely campaign for the GOP presidential nomination. Four years ago, he battled to restrict collective bargaining for public workers, setting off weeks of protests that overran the Capitol.
The latest legislation would allow employees in private workplaces to opt out of paying union dues, weakening budgets and membership. Such laws are popular among Republicans and business leaders and are viewed as a way to weaken the standing of groups that traditionally back Democrats.
"This bill makes us more like Mississippi," said Rick Badger, executive director of AFSCME Council 40 in Wisconsin, which represents government workers.
Union membership in Wisconsin represented 11.7 percent of its workforce in 2014, down from 12.3 percent a year earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.