ed. note.  On March 9, 2015 Gov. Walker sign right-to-work legislation into law.  This issue developed fairly quickly.  On Feb. 20, 2015 Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and House Speaker Robin Vos called for an extraordinary session to take up right-to-work legislation, and Walker's spokesman indicated he would sign such legislation. 

Office of Gov. Scott Walker
Monday, March 9, 2015

Governor Scott Walker Signs Freedom to Work Legislation

New law makes Wisconsin 25th state to give workers power to choose

Brown Deer – Governor Scott Walker joined job creators, local officials, and legislators today at Badger Meter in Brown Deer, to sign Special Session Senate Bill 44.  SB 44, or Freedom to Work, eliminates any requirement that employees pay union dues as a condition of employment, while maintaining the option to choose union membership.

“This legislation puts power back in the hands of Wisconsin workers, by allowing the freedom to choose whether they want to join a union and pay union dues,” Governor Walker said.  “This also gives Wisconsin one more tool to encourage job creators, like those here at Badger Meter, to continue investing and expanding in our state.  Freedom to Work, along with our investments in worker training, and our work to lower the tax burden, will lead to more freedom and prosperity for all of Wisconsin.”

Badger Meter has eight production facilities, including four in the U.S.  With the passage of Freedom to Work, Badger Meter President and CEO Rich Meeusen says the company will move forward with production expansion plans, and the creation of 30-50 new manufacturing jobs in Brown Deer.

“Today represents a turning point for Badger Meter, as we start adding jobs in a Freedom to Work state,” Meeusen said.  “Today also represents a turning point for our employees as they now have a choice regarding union membership.  I applaud members of the State Legislature and Governor Walker for their leadership in making Wisconsin more competitive to attract new employers and new jobs, to our state.”

Meeusen says there will be no reduction in pay or benefits to union or non-union employees at Badger Meter.
About Freedom to Work
SB44  prohibits, as a condition of employment, membership in a labor organization, and required payments to a labor organization, and provides a penalty.  Freedom to Work promotes individual freedom in the workforce, offering employees the right to freely associate or not associate with a union.  Workers maintain the right to contribute to unions, however, this contribution is a voluntary, noncompulsory act.  Workers have the right to designate how their hard-earned paycheck will be spent.

Governor Walker thanked Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), Representatives Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), Dave Craig (R-Big Bend), Dan Knodl (R-Germantown), and Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) and Senators Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) for their leadership on the bill.  Freedom to Work passed the Assembly by a vote of 62-35, and passed the Senate 17-15. The law becomes effective Wednesday, March 11, 2015.
About Badger Meter:
Founded in 1905, Badger Meter is a global leader in flow measurement and control products, serving water utilities, municipalities, and commercial and industrial customers worldwide. The company’s products measure water, oil, chemicals, and other fluids, and are known for accuracy, long-lasting durability and for providing valuable and timely measurement data.  Badger Meter is a publicly-owned company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol BMI.
Feb. 20 press releases from groups for and against right to work:

Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, Feb. 20, 2015 
CONTACT: James Flath

Now is the time for right to work

MADISON, Wisc. -- Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin State Director David Fladeboe released the following statement in response to the Wisconsin State Legislature's plan to fast-track right-to-work: 

“We thank Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Speaker Robin Vos for taking bold leadership on Right-to-Work and calling for an Extraordinary Session to consider this piece of vital legislation. Passing a Right-to-Work law in the Badger State is long overdue and this bill will allow us to take major steps forward for the rights of workers across Wisconsin," Fladeboe said. 

No employee should ever lose their job or be denied employment because they are forced to join a union. This is bill is about worker rights and guaranteeing freedom in the workplace. It is time for Wisconsin to pass this important legislation."

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce
Kurt R. Bauer
Scott Manley

Statement on right to work extraordinary session

Freedom is About to Break Out in Our Workplaces

MADISON - In the wake of the Legislative leadership announcing an extraordinary session next week to pass Right to Work Legislation, WMC President/CEO Kurt R. Bauer called for swift passage of the common sense reform aimed at creating workplace freedom. Governor Scott Walker's spokeswoman today said Walker will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

"The Legislature needs to move swiftly to pass Right to Work to provide freedom for workers and to improve our business climate. Let's get this bill to the Governor's desk so he can sign it. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos deserve the highest praise for moving expeditiously to pass Right to Work into law," Bauer said.

Fitzgerald and Vos announced that they will ask the Legislature to call itself into extraordinary session next week to pass Right to Work swiftly. Right to Work prohibits the firing of workers who do not pay union dues.

WMC, the state's chamber of commerce, supports Right to Work.

Wisconsin AFL-CIO
For Immediate Release
Contact: Karen Hickey

Statement regarding the call for an extraordinary session of the Legislature to take up "Right to Work"

“Right to Work rings a false promise for Wisconsin. Right to Work will not create jobs and will lower wages for all workers,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. “Every worker suffers when states enact anti-worker Right to Work laws. Rushing this legislation through in an extraordinary session is a slap in the face to our democracy.” 

“Right to Work is wrong for all workers and the entire middle class. Right to Work cripples the fundamental right of every American to join together, stick together and have a meaningful voice in the workplace,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. “The Republican leadership has decided to pursue an ideology over the needs of Wisconsin families. Right to Work legislation is part of a national anti-worker agenda that won’t bring one job to our state or help a single family put food on the table. Instead, it’s an attempt to end unions as we know them. It’s time for the Republicans to close the ALEC playbook, say no to out-of-state extremists and start thinking about the people they’ve been elected to serve—Wisconsin’s working families.”

Wisconsin Jobs Now
CONTACT: Lisa Lucas

“Right to Work” is not what it seems

Fewer protections and lower wages are not what Wisconsinites need

MILWAUKEE – The following is a statement from Wisconsin Jobs Now on next week’s extraordinary session to pass the so-called “Right to Work” law:

"Right to Work" is controversial, confusing, and wrong. The groups pushing this law are the same corporate and fat cat Washington special interests that pay poverty wages and ship jobs overseas. They’ve taken over our statehouse and think they can come into our state and tell us what to do. Right to Work is yet another attempt to stack the deck even more in their favor at the expense of the average Wisconsinite.

These corporate interests, and the politicians they've bought, know they could make more money if there are fewer protections in the workplace. They try to intentionally confuse the public by saying that this law means more freedom, but when we ask everyday people about what workplace freedom is, they talk about being able to negotiate pay fairly and take a sick day when they need it. They want to be able to take a grievance to the boss without fear, and have a set schedule so they know when they're free to do things like go to the dentist or their child's school play. Those are the types of workplace freedoms we should all have, but Right to Work eliminates the ability for people to stick together and have leverage to negotiate those bread and butter issues.

If we want to regain control of our economy and our state, we must do what corporate special interests have been doing: exercise our political power. It is up to us to use our own power to shape an economy that allows the rest of us to succeed alongside the very wealthy, instead of making less and less while they make more and more.


One Wisconsin Now
CONTACT: Mike Browne

Republican legislature rushes to limit debate and pass right to work legislation that's wrong for Wisconsin

‘It’s Sure Not the People of Wisconsin Asking for the Lower Wages and Reduced Benefits That Come With Right to Work’

MADISON, Wis. — Republican legislative leaders have indicated they will seek to ram through controversial right to work legislation in mere days next week. According to media reports an “extraordinary session” will be convened to pass as yet undisclosed legislation regarding right to work.

The following are the statements of One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross:

“Right to work is wrong for Wisconsin workers and families. It’s a complicated scheme that tilts the system even further in favor of corporate CEOs who are concerned only with their profits.

“It’s sure not the people of Wisconsin who work hard and deserve a fair shot to succeed that are asking for the lower wages and reduced benefits that come with right to work.

“All workers, whether they are in a union or not, are hurt by right to work laws. In the state’s that have it, the average worker earns $5,000 less per year and has fewer benefits.

“Even public education gets hurt, state’s with right to work spend over $3,300 less per pupil and their academic achievement lags behind. Meanwhile they give away more in tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations.

“No wonder on a Friday before a bill has even been publicly released Republican legislative leaders have unveiled a scheme to try to limit debate and ram the measure through the legislature next week.

“But instead of keeping their focus where it needs to be – creating well paying jobs and fixing the state budget mess they’ve created – the GOP legislature is kowtowing to the corporate special interests and their lobbyists.”

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald
January 29, 2015
Contact: Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald Responds to Overwhelming Support for Workplace Freedom

[Madison, WI]  Earlier today, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce released the findings of a poll conducted by The Tarrance Group which revealed that 69% of Wisconsin voters and 51% of union households support right to work legislation. Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) released the following statement:
“Today’s poll results underscored the fact that the legislature will not be able to complete this session without a vibrant debate on the issue of workplace freedom, which has received overwhelming support from Wisconsin’s voters and garnered widespread media attention.
As we enter into a budget process that we know will present some difficult financial challenges, we have an obligation to the taxpayers to make every effort to ensure that Wisconsin remains an attractive site for business and to foster economic growth. With broad support throughout the state, it would be a missed opportunity to leave the workplace freedom debate out of that equation.
The recent introduction of an Assembly proposal to repeal the prevailing wage further highlights the idea that the legislature must address any policy that artificially increases the financial burden on Wisconsin’s taxpayers. Before we even consider approaching our state’s taxpayers for more revenue, we must first consider any initiatives that could increase Wisconsin’s competitiveness—including workplace freedom, prevailing wage, and the use of Project Labor Agreements.
As we move further into the legislative session, the members of my caucus will continue to gather information on each of these significant labor issues, and I can say with confidence that a discussion on enhancing revenues will not take place without giving serious consideration to addressing the cost side of the equation first.”
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) represents the 13th Senate District, which covers portions of Dodge, Jefferson, Waukesha, Washington, Dane, and Columbia counties.