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WI Assembly Democrats Will Fight Right-to-Work “'Til The Last Vote Is Taken”

PHOTO: Fast-tracked right-to-work legislation, which drew throngs of protestors to the state capitol in Madison last week, has now moved on to the assembly. Republicans say the legislation will create jobs; Democrats disagree, saying it's another attack on hard-working middle class families in the Badger state. (Photo credit: One Wisconsin Now)
PHOTO: Fast-tracked right-to-work legislation, which drew throngs of protestors to the state capitol in Madison last week, has now moved on to the assembly. Republicans say the legislation will create jobs; Democrats disagree, saying it's another attack on hard-working middle class families in the Badger state. (Photo credit: One Wisconsin Now)
March 4, 2015

MADISON, Wis. - Amid protests and rallies at the state Capitol in Madison, Senate Republicans last week passed fast-tracked legislation that would make Wisconsin a right-to-work state, and now the Assembly is taking up the bill.

Republican leaders say the bill sends a strong signal that Wisconsin is serious about attracting new companies and new jobs to the state. Democrats, including Rep. Christine Sinicki of Milwaukee, strongly disagree.

"We have had a history in this state of being very progressive on labor issues. Not only this state, but this country was built on the backs of labor," she said. "And now to turn around and continue to attack the hard-working middle-class folks of the state of Wisconsin to me is just unconscionable."

Democrats say right-to-work laws drive down wages, hurt job creation and will further divide the state, pointing out that people registering to speak to the Senate hearing on right-to-work legislation last week opposed it by a margin of 70-to-1.

Sinicki, who is the ranking Democrat on the Assembly Labor Committee, represents part of Milwaukee. She called the legislation extremely damaging for Wisconsin's working families, and said the Republicans are ignoring the wishes of the vast majority of Wisconsinites.

"I represent a very strong blue-collar area," she said, "and they are so opposed to not only this, but to everything else that the Republicans have been doing in the state of Wisconsin."

Right-to-work legislation takes freedom away from workers and private businesses, Sinicki said, emphasizing that 400 contractors and businesses in Wisconsin have asked Gov. Scott Walker not to force the legislation on them. She said her party will fight it to the end.

"The assembly Democrats are going to stand strong," she said. "We're united on this; we are going to do what we can to fight it 'til the last vote is taken."

Republicans hold the majority in both the Senate and the Assembly, and Walker has said he will sign the legislation if it passes both houses, which could happen later this week.

The text of the legislation, Senate Bill 44, is online at docs.legis.wisconsin.gov.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI