Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — now treated as a serious contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination — and his Republican colleagues are seemingly intent on trying to repeal the 20th century.
They have rammed through the Legislature a “right-to-work” law for Wisconsin workers. The Assembly on March 6 passed the bill 62-35, after the Senate narrowly passed it 17-15 a week earlier. After Walker signed the bill on March 9, Wisconsin became the 25th “right-to-work” state in the nation and represent another major victory over workers for Walker in the eyes of his ultra-conservative donors and political base.
Walker crushed public employee union rights in 2011, and although the epic battle helped to ignite the massive Occupy movement, it also raised Walker to national popularity among the Right and corporate executives. Since then, two Midwestern states, Indiana and Michigan, have become “right-to-work” states.
While Walker and his allies are claiming that a “right-to-work” bill is a prescription for job growth, the pro-RTW forces are actually promoting a fatal “cure” for Wisconsin’s private-sector workers whose wages are already 15% below the national average.
Martin Luther King, Jr. accurately captured the impact of right-to-work laws in undermining economic justice and genuine democracy back in 1961: “Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer, and there are no civil rights.”
While “right-to-work” advocates among business elites claim to be generously protecting the individual freedom of workers to avoid paying union dues, this display of concern is simply “a fraud,” King declared. “Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone.”
Recent data bear out King’s conclusions. The Congressional Research Service concluded in a December, 2012 report that states like Wisconsin, which permitting “fair-share” or “union-security” provisions showed sharply higher median wages: $50,867 compared with $43,641 in right-to-work states, a 16.5% differential amounting to $7,226 per year. Workers in “right-to-work” states are much less likely to have healthcare and pension benefits as well.
Source: The Populist/Roger Bybee