Rep. Tyler August: Right-to-work legislation is right for Wisconsin
The past couple weeks at the state Capitol have been eventful. Gov. Walker introduced his 2015-17 state budget recommendations to the Legislature. Legislators are reviewing the document and have kicked off the long budget process, which I will address in more detail after the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau has analyzed it.
Additionally, you have likely heard the Legislature is considering right-to-work legislation. While the topic has generated protests in Madison, the bill simply states that workers cannot be forced to join a union and pay dues if they choose not to. I support the legislation and will vote in favor of the bill when it comes to a vote in the state Assembly.
My reasoning for supporting the bill is two-fold. I believe it is both a worker freedom issue as well as a policy that will improve our state’s economy.
Quite simply, I do not believe that any American should be forced to join a union just to have a job. Workers should have the freedom to choose whether or not it is in their best interests to join a union and pay dues. According to the Heritage Foundation, “labor unions charge workers 10 percent higher dues and pay their top full-time officers $20,000 more a year in states with compulsory dues.”
Equally important, I believe right to work is also an economic issue. Passing this bill will improve our state’s business climate and attract jobs. Research has shown that 75 percent of businesses consider right to work an important factor when choosing a new location. This is especially important with neighboring Iowa, Michigan and Indiana all being right-to-work states. In fact, right-to-work states’ economies are performing quite well—considerably better than forced-union states. From 2004-2013, right-to-work states have added 2.1 million more jobs and have grown more than twice as fast as forced-union states. Additionally, wages rose about 7 percent more in right-to-work over a 10-year period, from 2003-2013.
It is important to note that nothing in the bill would ban or eliminate private-sector unions. In 2012, Indiana passed a right-to-work law, and union membership actually rose by 50,000 members from 2013 to 2014.
After Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, held an all-day public hearing on the bill, the entire Senate approved the measure on a 17-15 vote. The bill now comes to the Assembly for consideration. In an effort to both increase worker freedom and improve our state’s economic climate, I will vote to make Wisconsin the 25th right-to-work state in the nation.
Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, is the speaker pro tempore of the state Assembly. He represents the 32nd Assembly District, which includes portions of Walworth, Kenosha and Racine counties. Contact him at 608-266-1190; email [email protected].