- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald abruptly announced Friday the Senate will take up contentious right-to-work legislation in an extraordinary session next week. Assembly leaders say they’ll take up the bill after the Senate passes it.

Right-to-work measures bar unions from requiring people join them and pay dues as a condition of employment. The bill comes as union leaders are still stinging from Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011 law that stripped most public workers of nearly all their bargaining rights. Here’s a look at what people are saying about right-to-work and the extraordinary session:

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“This discussion has been around for a long time …. In my experience as leader, when you have the votes, you go to the floor. You don’t wait around.” - Fitzgerald, R-Juneau. “… This is something that could, once again, jumpstart the state’s economy.”

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“Wisconsin should be a right-to-work state. The public widely supports worker freedom and the potential positive impact to the state’s economy can no longer be ignored.” - Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester.

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“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.” - Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick.

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“It is absurd that Republicans would fast-track legislation to interfere with private business contracts and lower wages for all Wisconsin workers at a time when our state is facing a massive $2.2 billion budget crisis.” - Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse.

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“There is broad agreement among workers, businesses and everyday citizens that Right to Work is wrong for Wisconsin. Yet the governor and Republican lawmakers have proven they will do anything to change the subject from their mismanagement of Wisconsin’s economy, including driving down wages for our workers and further dividing our state.” - Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca.

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“The Republican leadership has decided to pursue an ideology over the needs of Wisconsin families. Right-to-work legislation is part of a national anti-worker agenda that won’t bring one job to our state or help a single family put food on the table. Instead, it’s an attempt to end unions as we know them.” - Stephanie Bloomingdale, secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.

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“This is a distraction and we don’t need it right now. They’re bringing this up in a hurry and it’s really misguided. We need to concentrate on helping Wisconsin’s families and I don’t think this does that.” - David Branson, executive director of the Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin, which represents 17 construction unions.

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“… Republicans are fast-tracking this in hope they can pass it and have Gov. Walker sign it before the public has a chance to even see what they are trying to do …. It is a cynical and cowardly move by legislative Republicans to lower the wages of everyone in Wisconsin except their own.” ___ Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville.


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