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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

 10:36 AM 

Fitzgerald pitches right-to-work as way to get economy moving

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald today pitched his right-to-work legislation as a vehicle to get Wisconsin’s economy moving, saying the state can no longer operate under an antiquated system.

Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said the status quo is no longer working because the state is competing not just with others around the country but a global economy. Without something significant, the state will not see its economy expand dramatically.

“I don’t think there’s any other piece of legislation that sends a strong message to those who might think about expanding here or locating here than this bill,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t think there’s anything else you could possibly do that could be a game changer like this.”

Fitzgerald also pitched the legislation as a simple bill that was about worker freedom and would not impact current union contracts. He stressed workers will still have the choice to join a union, and the right to collectively bargain would still be protected.

Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Kenosha, accused Fitzgerald of operating under a double standard. He said Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and local chambers of commerce insist on membership fees to gets the rights and services the organizations offer.

“Yet you and the business community want to impose a system where freeloaders can take services for unions while those two business associations wouldn’t tolerate that,” Wirch said.

Fitzgerald said he gets the analogy, but didn’t have any further comment.

Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, pressed Fitzgerald for why there was such a rush to push through the bill, which was unveiled Friday. Fitzgerald argued the idea has been around for a long time.

Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, chimed in Dems had warned late last year right-to-work would be like Act 10 all over again and "We don't want to go through the ugliness of Act 10." He said it was prudent to act quickly.

"The majority party makes direct attacks on labor people and then they're surprised when they get angry," Wirch countered.

"That doesn’t justify death threats," Nass said.


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