Unionists surrounded the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, in the week’s third and biggest demonstration against the right-to-work legislation, which would make it illegal for private company trade unions to demand collective dues from employees who are not trade union members themselves.
.@OccupyWallStNYC Marching around State Capitol to say “right to work” is wrong for WI #wiunion#NotATerroristpic.twitter.com/8p3XEyymuf
— OverpassLightBrigade (@OLBLightBrigade) February 28, 2015
The demonstrators held placards reading “Kill the union death bill” and “I am not a terrorist.”
After an eight-hour debate on Wednesday – during which observers were ejected by police – the bill was passed by a narrow margin of 17 to 15. It will now go to the upper chamber next week. The Assembly, which enjoys a wide Republican majority, is expected to rubber-stamp it. It will be enacted as soon as it is signed by Governor and 2016 presidential hopeful Scott Walker.
I’m the #NotATerrorist in the middle. @GovWalker #RTW = #WRONGforWI!! pic.twitter.com/Mndypsvzu8
— Pirjo Holmstrom (@PirjoCheerio) February 28, 2015
Wisconsin would then become the 25th US state to a adopt right-to-work law.
Walker – a renowned anti-union politician – made a gaffe earlier this week. He tried to bolster his future credentials as a US president who can tackle international terrorism, by comparing fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) with his handling of the massive Act 10 protests in Wisconsin four years ago.
“I want a commander in chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic terrorists does not wash up on American soil. If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” Walker told CPAC, a group of influential Republican donors, on Thursday in Maryland.
Rally just starting. Watch out for those protesters. #NotATerroristpic.twitter.com/AN8ct1k1An
— MTEA (@MTEAunion) February 28, 2015
After being roundly criticized for the comments, Walker tried to backtrack, and denied that he was making a direct comparison.
Act 10 – which reduced state workers’ bargaining power and led to union membership falling by one-fifth to around 11.7 percent – has sapped the morale of union workers. Meanwhile, the new legislation would likely result in further union membership numbers, a fall in fees – from both members and non-members – and likely less bargaining power for workers.
The governor insists that any losses will be offset by additional revenues from companies drawn to Wisconsin by the business-friendly legislation.