January 30, 2015
A Republican Senate leader is renewing his call to begin consideration of a “right-to-work” law, which prevents private-sector workers from being required to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Thursday that the issue should be debated by the legislature alongside consideration of the proposed 2015-17 state budget, which GOP Governor Scott Walker is expected to release Feb. 3.
In December, Fitzgerald said he wanted to see the legislature act on quickly on the issue, but then backtracked in mid-January and said it was unlikely the legislature would debate it until after the April 7 spring elections.
Fitzgerald’s latest comments came only hours after Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business organization and a powerful influence on state spending and policy, released results of a poll it conducted that showed 69 percent of respondents supported a right-to-work law.
WMC’s steady drumbeat for passage of a right-to-work law is backed up by the group’s big spending to support Republican candidates in legislative and statewide elections. WMC has spent an estimated $18.4 million over the years mostly on negative ads to smear Democrats and support Republican candidates, including $700,000 to back Senate Republican incumbents and candidates in the 2011 and 2012 recall elections.
In addition to outside electioneering activities, WMC boasts a membership of 4,000 businesses from a wide range of special interest groups. Manufacturers and businesses contributed about $137,000 to Fitzgerald’s campaign between 2011 and July 2014.
During that time, Fitzgerald’s top individual contributors were Jere Fabick, Oconomowoc, owner of Fabco Engineering, $15,000; Paul Schierl, Green Bay, a retired paper industry executive and president of the Cornerstone Foundation, $6,000; and Daniel McKeithan, River Hills, chairman of Tamarack Petroleum, $5,250.