Walker signs bill making Wisconsin right-to-work state

Associated Press

March 10, 2015

Gov. Scott Walker signs a right-to-work bill into law Monday at Badger Meter in Brown Deer. The new law, which takes effect immediately, makes Wisconsin the 25th right-to-work state and the first to do it since Michigan and Indiana in 2012.  
Associated Press

BROWN DEER  - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday signed into law a measure that prohibits requiring a worker to pay union dues, four years after the state effectively ended collective bargaining for public-sector employees.  

 Walker, a likely presidential candidate fresh off a weekend visit to Iowa, signed the right-to-work bill affecting private-sector workers at an invitation-only ceremony at Badger Meter north of Milwaukee. The company’s president was one of the few business owners who publicly supported the measure, which went through the Legislature in less than two weeks.  

 His sleeves rolled up and his suit jacket off, the Republican governor sat at a table with a banner that said ‘‘Freedom to Work’’ as he signed the bill that makes it a misdemeanor to require workers to pay unions dues.  

 Just before the signing, Walker said the new law ‘‘sends a powerful message across the country and around the world.’’   

 Supporters have argued the law will help keep and attract new businesses to the state who were wary to spend in Wisconsin before. But opponents say it will drive down wages and make the workplace less safe.  

 A coalition of more than 400 businesses formed to oppose the bill and upward of 3,000 union members and others gathered at the Capitol in a failed attempt to block its passage.  

 Walker was surrounded Monday by Republican lawmakers who shepherded the bill through the process, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. Representatives from the state chamber of commerce, along with Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, were also on hand.  

 Badger Meter’s chief executive and chairman Rich Meeusen said because of the law the company will place a $2.5 million piece of new water control equipment at the Brown Deer facility and that will lead to 30 to 50 new manufacturing jobs in the state.  

 Walker left without taking questions.  

 The new law, which takes effect immediately, makes Wisconsin the 25th right-to-work state and the first to do it since Michigan and Indiana in 2012.