GUEST: Jeffrey Sommers, associate professor of political economy & public policy in Global Studies & Africology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Four years ago Wisconsinites revolted in response to a draconian measure gutting many hard-won labor rights. In an occupation of the capitol that lasted weeks and drawing as many as 100,000 protesters, and international news coverage, ordinary people in the state of Wisconsin rose up against anti-worker sentiments pushed by Republican Governor Scott Walker.
Since then, Walker has been able to stave off a recall effort and win reelection. Perhaps emboldened by that, he is pushing a controversial bill curtailing the power of organizer labor. Under the euphemistic title of the “right to work,” Walker and his fellow Republicans are fast tracking a bill that would make it illegal to for unions to collect mandatory dues from all members of a bargaining unit, even if those members benefited from the union’s power.
Such laws have passed in numerous states around the country but some, such as a law in Indiana that Wisconsin’s law is closely modeled on, have been struck down in court. Just how close is Wisconsin to dis-empowering its unions?