Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker is riding a national trend against labor unions, and hopes it will carry him all the way to the White House.
After crushing most public employees' right to bargain with his support of the state's Act 10, resulting in a recall election which Walker won, the anti-union lawmaker is about to sign off on a bill making Wisconsin the 25th right-to-work (RTW) state in the union, Politico reports.
The bill, which allows employees to work without paying dues to a union, likely won't win Walker any union votes in his home state.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported
that after Act 10 passed, public-sector union households gave Walker a 73 percent disapproval rating, while private sector union households gave him a disapproval rating of 53 percent, a number that is likely to increase when Walker signs off on the RTW bill, which is due to hit his desk on Monday.
But Walker has his eye on a bigger prize, Wisconsin state Democratic Sen. Chris Larson told Politico.
"I think he’s going for broke now, right? He’s all in for trying to make his next career move. His future is not in Wisconsin. He’s off on the pageant, trying to find his next gig," Larson said.
The RTW trend is well underway, with 20 RTW bills introduced by Republicans in states last year, and passage of RTW bills in Indiana and Michigan in 2012, John A. Logan, professor of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University, told The Hill.
Nationally, union membership has dropped to 11 percent, while private sector union membership has dropped to 6.6 percent from a high of 40 percent in the 1950s, Politico notes.
Driving the RTW trend is Republican control of 68 out of 98 legislative bodies in the country, and full GOP control of the governor's office and legislature in 24 states, Politico reports.
Greg Mourad, of the National Right to Work Committee, told Politico that RTW is "picking up steam, clearly. We are definitely excited at the momentum we have been able to build for this issue."
Walker initially resisted pushing for a Wisconsin RTW law, calling it a "distraction," but eventually changed his position when urged by state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, former state chairman of the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which supports RTW laws, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Walker sees the national political power of his anti-union stance and has positioned himself as its leading figurehead, stating that his battles with public employee unions have prepared him for battling the Islamic State, although he later apologized for equating the two, and praising President Ronald Reagan's action in busting the air traffic controllers union as the most "significant foreign policy decision," Politico notes.
Jake Rosenfeld, sociology professor at the University of Wisconsin, told Politico, "I think to a large degree, in the private sector, this is a war that’s already been won.”
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