On Monday, President Obama responded to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signing a “right-to-work” bill into law, calling his decision “inexcusable.”
“It’s no coincidence that the rise of the middle class in America coincided in large part with the rise of unions -– workers who organized together for higher wages, better working conditions, and the benefits and protections that most workers take for granted today,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House. “So it’s inexcusable that, over the past several years, just when middle-class families and workers need that kind of security the most, there’s been a sustained, coordinated assault on unions, led by powerful interests and their allies in government.”
Obama added that he was disappointed with the signing because the law would “weaken, rather than strengthen” Wisconsin’s labor force.
“Wisconsin is a state built by labor, with a proud pro-worker past,” Obama’s statement continued. “So even as its governor claims victory over working Americans, I’d encourage him to try and score a victory for working Americans -– by taking meaningful action to raise their wages and offer them the security of paid leave. That’s how you give hardworking middle-class families a fair shot in the new economy –- not by stripping their rights in the workplace, but by offering them all the tools they need to get ahead.”
Wisconsin is now the 25th state to outlaw the requirement that workers join a union in order to be employed. Walker, a potential 2016 candidate for the GOP, previously stated that his experience with labor unions prepared him to tackle threats like ISIS.
Walker responded to the President Obama’s criticism of his decision to sign the anti-union bill on Monday night, saying that Obama should “be looking to states, like Wisconsin, as an example for how to grow our economy.”
“Our reforms are moving Wisconsin forward and helping create family-supporting jobs for people in our state," Walker said in a statement released by his office. "Despite a stagnant national economy and a lack of leadership in Washington, since we took office, Wisconsin's unemployment rate is down to 5.0 percent, and more than 100,000 jobs and 30,000 businesses have been created.
“The Freedom to Work law that I signed today continues to put the 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," he added. "It also gives Wisconsin one more tool to encourage job creators 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.”