First Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took on public sector unions; now he is poised to pass right-to-work legislation for private unions as well. Republicans in the state senate have just fast-tracked a vote on making Wisconsin into a right-to-work state, with a bill being brought today and a vote likely to happen in the middle of next week, and Walker is on board. Here’s the AP, via ABC News:
Walker had expressed concerns to leaders in the GOP-controlled Legislature that rushing the divisive proposal could distract from his agenda. But after a series of private meetings with lawmakers, followed by an announcement that the bill would be debated next week, Walker’s spokeswoman said he would sign it.“Governor Walker continues to focus on budget priorities to grow our economy and to streamline state government,” his spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said in an email. “With that said, Governor Walker co-sponsored right-to-work legislation as a lawmaker and supports the policy.”
This will be big for Scott Walker if it happens: it will put a finishing touch on the new midwestern Republicanism and endear him to the party’s base. As we’ve noted, success on this issue will give him some room to pivot toward the center on other issues—if that’s what he wants to do.Moreover, as John Fund notes over at National Review: “a new survey by a University of Chicago professor found Wisconsin residents favoring the [right to work] idea by 62 percent to 32 percent.” It’s notable that such a strong majority backs right to work in a state like Wisconsin, which has been traditionally blue and pro-union. That high a level of support makes right-to-work a hot issue not only in Wisconsin, but also nationally.