Wisconsin takes a major step on Wednesday towards becoming the 25th U.S. state to prohibit requiring private sector workers to join or financially support unions when its Republican-led Senate begins debate on proposed "right-to-work" legislation.
Union members are expected to rally in opposition at the state capitol in Madison, which was also the scene of large protests in 2011 after Republican Governor Scott Walker ushered through a law limiting the power of public-sector unions. The step earned Walker, a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination, accolades from conservatives across the United States.
Supporters of the right-to-work measure contend it could attract businesses to the Midwest state, while opponents see it as an assault on organized labor that would limit union revenues.
The Senate is scheduled to deliberate and to vote on the measure before the Wednesday session is adjourned. The Assembly is expected to take up the bill next week.
Union workers opposed to the bill are expected to hold a second midday rally in as many days outside on the steps of the capitol, in an echo of the massive rallies that preceded Walker's 2011 move.
An hours-long hearing over the bill on Tuesday evening was cut 30 minutes short by the Senate committee chairman, Republican Stephen Nass, who cited the threat of a disruption by union demonstrators. The committee voted along party lines to advance the bill for Senate consideration.
Walker will sign a bill if it makes it to his desk, a spokeswoman has said.
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