Wisconsin Governor and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker signed a new law on Mar. 9 that gives state citizens the option of deciding whether or not they want to pay dues to their unions. The previous rule made union dues mandatory for employees.
Following the lead of other Midwestern states, such as Michigan and Indiana, Gov. Walker made his state the 25th in the nation to adopt the anti-union policies, ABC News reports.
“This freedom-to-work legislation will give workers the freedom to choose whether or not they want to join a union, and employers another compelling reason to consider expanding or moving their business to Wisconsin,” said Walker, who previously struck the unions when he removed collective bargaining rights for public sector employees in 2011, saving the state millions of dollars.
The state legislature, controlled by Republicans, were able to pass the legislation in just two weeks, a rarity in any level of government. As expected, pro-union leaders spoke out against the new legislation.
“By signing Right to Work into law, Gov. Walker continues his crusade on the hard-working, middle-class families of Wisconsin,” Phil Neuenfeldt, the current president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO branch, said in a prepared statment.
President Barack Obama also voiced his opposition of the new rules.
“I’m deeply disappointed that a new anti-worker law in Wisconsin will weaken, rather than strengthen workers in the new economy,” said a statement from the President released on Monday.
Not everyone was unhappy with the new law. Mark Mix, the president of the National Right to Work Committee, hoped that nearby states, such as Minnesota, would create their own pro-business laws.
“Every worker deserves freedom of choice when it comes to union membership and dues payment, and if states like Michigan and Wisconsin can pass Right to Work then Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio can too,” Mix said in a statement.
However, some state politicians thought Walker’s push for this legislation had nothing to do with workers’ rights, but rather focused more on politics.
“It’s designed to depress wages and to help them win elections in the future,” Michael Sargeant, Wisconsin’s executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, said, according to The New York Times.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore, WikiCommons