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In Blow to Unions, Anti-Worker Bill Heads to Wisconsin Governor's Desk

Along party lines, state Assembly passes 'a destructive bill that undoes 75 years of labor peace'

The battle between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the state's labor movement goes back years. This sign appeared at a protest in 2014. (Photo: Light Brigading/flickr/cc)

Voting along party lines and following nearly 24 hours of continuous debate, the Wisconsin Assembly on Friday approved anti-worker legislation that bans labor contracts requiring workers to pay union fees.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a presumptive 2016 presidential candidate whose assault on organized labor is ongoing, said he "looks forward" to signing the bill on Monday.

As Common Dreams previously reported, Wisconsin Republicans called a surprise "extraordinary session" in late-February in order to fast-track the so-called "right-to-work" bill. The Center for Media and Democracy, a Madison-based watchdog organization, has revealed that the proposal was taken verbatim from model legislation crafted by the right-wing, corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Outcry from those who opposed the measure—saying it would depress wages, weaken unions, and pit workers against bosses—came immediately on Friday.


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"Passing this bill is a sad and outrageous statement on the state of our politics in Wisconsin—where a destructive bill that undoes 75 years of labor peace is rammed through in less than two weeks," said the Assembly's minority leader Peter Barca in a statement.

The Wisconsin AFL-CIO declared on its blog: "Right to work will drive down wages and benefits, decrease safety standards and weaken the middle class. Republicans are clearly more concerned with advancing the rights of out-of-state special interests who write their campaign checks than protecting the rights and protecting the wages of hard-working Wisconsinites."

But labor advocates also vowed that "the fight is not over."

The state's AFL-CIO affiliate added: "Brothers and sisters, we combat this attack on working people by building upon the solidarity and unity forged in the battles for fair pay, better working conditions, and safe workplaces."

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