Pursuant to my earlier point about why liberals hate Governor Scott Walker with supernova fury: the Wisconsin State Senate passed a right-to-work law on Wednesday, sending it on to near-certain passage in the Assembly and signature by You Know Who.
In essence, there are only a few formalities to complete before Wisconsin joins its neighbors Michigan and Indiana as a right-to work state. It’s going to happen fast, as the Associated Press reports the bill is blazing down a “fast track” that could see Walker affixing his signature next week:
Walker, a likely presidential candidate, has promised to sign it into law. The bill passed the Senate 17-15 on Wednesday night, with all Democrats and one Republican voting against it, after nearly eight hours of debate.
The proposal would make it a crime punishable by up to nine months in jail to require private-sector workers who aren’t in a union to pay dues. Supporters say it’s about worker freedom, while opponents say it will hurt businesses and lower wages. There are 24 other states with similar laws, including Michigan and Indiana which passed them in 2012.
Democrats argued right-to-work would be bad for workers, wasn’t wanted by businesses and would hurt the state’s economy. They also decried how quickly the bill was moving — the Senate vote was just five days after the bill was proposed.
Republican supporters said it will give workers the freedom to decide whether to pay union dues and will attract more business to the state.
“There will be no more important jobs bill in this chamber over the next two years than the bill before us today,” said its main sponsor, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.
Union bosses and their faithful allies put on quite a circus during the passage of this bill, with a couple thousand people protesting within and without the Capitol for two days. “Spectators frequently applauded Democrats and occasionally interrupted debate,” the AP reports. “About a dozen were removed by police. Protesters interrupted the proceedings with shouts such as, “This is not about democracy. You work for the people of the state!” and “You’re robbing our families! You’re robbing me!”
Passage of the bill was greeted with a chant of, “Shame!”
It’s odd that all this ruckus didn’t get any national attention, isn’t it? Especially since the media are so eager to make Walker look bad. There are a few reasons for the radio silence:
1. The media know these protests are futile – the bill is going to pass. Right-to-work is a popular idea whose time has come. A dwindling number of people outside the labor movement are pleased with the notion of forcing workers to join unions, or pay them dues even if they don’t belong.
2. These protests are much smaller than the ones that failed to dislodge Walker in a recall election, and failed to block the landmark Act 10 legislation that restricted collective bargaining by public unions and made it illegal for them to use the government as their dues collector, free of charge. This little squeak of protest is downright pathetic compared to the hundred-thousand-strong army Walker defeated in the decisive battle of the War On Taxpayers. Better for the press not to dwell on its diminished size.
3. The protesters aren’t a very appealing bunch. Watching some guy scream at right-to-work advocates that they “work for the people of the state” after Democrats fled the state on the command of union bosses, early in Walker’s tenure, is hilarious.
4. The union movement is dying. It’s about as appealing to an American public starved for jobs as Ebola. Public employee unions are particularly offensive, a tumor on democracy that haven’t actually been legal for all that long, never should have been legal in the first place, and should be completely abolished as quickly as possible. Private-sector unions have much more public support in principle, but their problem in practice is…
5. The American people are sick unto death of crony corporatist arrangements that help politically connected individuals and entities prosper, with the assistance of compulsive force. That’s not how private unions have to operate, but at the moment, it’s a big part of their business model, and those days are coming to an end. Big Labor will be a lot smaller when the right-to-work revolution is complete, and those big bosses will have considerably less lavish lifestyles, but when it’s running without the assistance of anti-competitive government power, it will face fewer objections from non-union workers. There’s nothing wrong with collective bargaining among private entities – unions are corporations, no more inherently villainous or virtuous than any other – provided government’s thumb is kept off the scales.
As CNN recalls, Walker was not actually keen on getting a right-to-work bill done, because he didn’t want to “bring the whole firestorm” of union protests back. He seems to have overestimated the heat of that firestorm. His office released a statement of support for the bill on Friday: “Governor Walker continues to focus on budget priorities to grow our economy and to streamline state government. With that said, Governor Walker co-sponsored right-to-work legislation as a lawmaker and supports the policy. If this bill makes it to his desk, Governor Walker will sign it into law.”
The last drop of political capital his opponents will be able to squeeze out of him over the issue will be accusing him of either flip-flopping, or concealing his secret lust to sign a right-to-work bill during his 2014 re-election campaign. Expect them to squeeze that drop as hard as they can, and then start dealing with the new reality of another Democrat Party cash pipeline shutting down.