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Party-line vote in Assembly supports right-to-work

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — After an all-night session, the Wisconsin Assembly passed a right-to-work bill on Friday, with all 62 Republicans voting in favor and all 35 Democrats against.

Here are the highlights:


The Assembly debated the measure for about 19 hours straight before voting shortly after 9 a.m. Friday. Democrats offered a series of amendments, none of which were adopted. The Senate passed the bill last week, also rejecting all Democratic attempts to change it. Gov. Scott Walker plans to sign it into law on Monday, his spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said. The law would take effect immediately.


“Right to work will not create jobs and will not help one family put food on the table,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. “Right to work weakens the ability of workers to come together, stick together and have each other’s backs through their union in the workplace.”

Democratic lawmakers said passing a right-to-work bill was a step backward for worker rights.

“Today is the day we have solidified the regressive era in Wisconsin,” said Democratic Rep. Terese Berceau, of Madison.

David Fladeboe, state director of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, said the legislation making Wisconsin the 25th right-to-work state “long overdue,” calling it “common sense legislation.”

Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, called on Walker to quickly sign the bill.

Scott Manley, lobbyist for the state chamber of commerce which advocated strongly for the bill, said the Legislature was “pro-growth” and “pro-freedom” for passing it.


Only one Republican in the entire Legislature — state Sen. Jerry Petrowski, of Marathon — voted against the bill when that chamber passed it last week.

Petrowski said last week that he wasn’t convinced the promised benefits of the law would come to pass.

On Friday, every Republican in the Assembly voted for it, and no Democrat supported it.


Right-to-work laws make it illegal for a private-sector business to enter into an agreement with unions that require all workers to pay union dues. Twenty-four other states have such laws, and several other states are considering them this year. Unions oppose the measure, saying it will weaken their power to negotiate salary, benefits and working conditions. A coalition of more than 400 Wisconsin businesses is also against it, saying the government shouldn’t intrude on a system that’s working. But Republican backers say workers should be given the freedom to decide whether to pay union dues, and they believe the law will attract businesses that may otherwise set up shop elsewhere.


About 300 people rallied against the bill Thursday as debate began, and Republicans ordered the Assembly gallery cleared minutes into the debate as spectators yelled out.

Two people were arrested at the Capitol on Thursday night when they uttered profanities and refused to stop, said Cullen Werwie, a spokesman for the Department of Administration.

A small group of people who frequently protest at the Capitol gathered outside the Assembly chamber Friday morning and yelled “shame” when they received news that the bill had passed.

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