Anyone reading this blog won’t be surprised to hear that I am vehemently opposed to Right To Work legislation. Nor that I am not particularly happy about the events from the past week or so that have lead to this particular blog.
The first shot across the bows of Wisconsin labor came on Monday December 1st, when it was announced that Lorri Pickens, a former employee of various stripes for Americans for Prosperity, was organizing Wisconsin Right To Work. Ms. Pickens of course intends to lobby Madison lawmakers in support of right to work legislation in Wisconsin. During the recent campaign, the Republicans essentially took the position that Right To Work legislation wasn’t on their radar, so it is not wholly surprising that someone would want to lobby in favor.
And then before the ink is even dry on their letterhead, State Representative Chris Kapenga (R – Delafield) promised to introduce a right to work bill in the legislature.
And then, on Thursday December 4th, fearing the state senate might get left behind in right to work herohood, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R – Juneau) said there was no way that the topic could be avoided.
So essentially in a month’s time…from the November 4th election when Right to Work hadn’t crossed our mind…to December 4th when Right to Work legislation had become inevitable!
Fitzgerald first raised his proposal with conservative talk radio host Charlie Sykes of WTMJ-AM (620), and then later Thursday discussed it with statehouse reporters. It was a complete shift from the rhetoric of Republicans who in the months leading up to the November election called the issue a distraction and insisted it was not a priority.
As bad as it is on the face of it, there are some really heinous activities within the right’s Right to Work discussions.
First is Senator Fitzgerald’s claim that the discussion is inevitable and that it should be taken up in the Senate before the Assembly…when there has been no movement in the Senate to introduce a bill and the assembly bill so far is still just a gleam in Representative Kapenga’s right eye.
“We can’t tiptoe through this session without addressing this,” Fitzgerald told Sykes on Thursday. “We’re not tackling this six months from now. We’re not tackling this a year from now. … There’s no way we avoid this issue. We have to deal with this issue right now.”
Fitzgerald said he would be willing to have the Senate vote first on the measure. Given that the backing for it is stronger in the state Assembly, the majority leader’s remarks signaled that support for the idea among conservative lawmakers could be too great to stop.
But I do find a bit of humor in this statement from the senator:
“It’s my opinion it has to come up early” in the session that begins in January, Fitzgerald told reporters. “I don’t know how we get through the session without having this debate.”
It seems to me that as Senate Majority Leader, Senator Fitzgerald should be able to quash just about any legislative initiative before it ever reaches the actual state senate for consideration…so when he says he doesn’t know how to avoid the debate he is either lying or…well he’s just lying.
But well and good…so far this is Republican politics in Madison as usual…the same sleight of hand that we’ve seen the past four years…distract and confuse…divide and conquer. We pretty much knew this was coming despite the Republican denials on the campaign trail.
But here’s where it really gets interesting. Just like the police and fire unions were left out of the betrayals of public employees built into Act 10…unions who supported Governor Walker in 2010…they are now looking for ways to insulate the private unions that supported them in 2014…divide and conquer at it’s most blatant…or maybe it’s another hand of pay to play?:
Nearly four years after mostly eliminating collective bargaining for public workers, Republicans are considering putting limits on most private-sector unions while giving an unprecedented exemption to the labor groups that support them politically.
One key impediment to passing such legislation has been the support Republicans have received from a few private-sector unions, including the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, whose members run the heavy equipment used to build roads and other infrastructure.
Thursday, Fitzgerald said Republicans could exempt the operating engineers, pipe fitters and certain other trade unions from any bill. But he also conceded that this approach could make the law more vulnerable to a legal challenge.
“We don’t know yet what can or can’t be done. If you asked three attorneys — three labor attorneys — what would or wouldn’t work, you’d get three different answers,” he said.
So they want to punish those unions who opposed the election of Governor Walker and the Republicans in the legislature while rewarding the unions who provided them with support. And they are brazen enough to discuss it openly even when the most dullard among them think it might actually be illegal.
Meanwhile, across the rotunda, the governor is sticking to his position that Right To Work legislation isn’t a priority…in fact it’s a distraction:
A day after a top Republican lawmaker announced he wanted to take up so-called right-to-work legislation early next year, Gov. Scott Walker said the move would detract from his attempts to cut taxes and make schools more accountable.
“My position has been — it’s hasn’t changed — I think it’s a distraction,” the GOP governor told Capitol reporters.
Too late governor…it’s already a distraction…if you can’t rein in your cohorts I assume you are paying RTW lip service…and are not actually opposed to the idea!
Update: Correcting Rep. Kapenga’s home from Brookfield to Delafield>