The Ed: Winning Right to Work

Credit WI State Journal

This week’s Martinicast editorial:

So, right to work will soon be the law in Wisconsin.

It’s basically inevitable that the measure rapidly making its way through the capitol, which basically says an employee can’t be forced to pay dues to a union as a condition of employment, will pass.

While he’s been reluctant to prioritize the legislation, did not himself propose it to the legislature, and has called it a distraction from his own policy objectives, the governor will sign it. His hand is forced.

Morning Martini wrote before that if right to work is taken up, it would be because the governor has lost at least some control over the legislative process to ambitious conservatives in the legislature.

In their ranks are Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. Some activists speculate Vos might be interested in the governor’s mansion – Walker has said he won’t run again in 2018. But considering his spectacular rise in the GOP presidential nomination process, he might not be around long enough anyway.

Fitzgerald resides in the congressional district of Jim Sensenbrenner, who was first elected to Congress in 1978. If the congressman retires any time soon, it would leave a chasm for his replacement.

A conservative will eventually replace Sensenbrenner – it’s a safe district for a Republican. In 16 elections since his first, he has never won with less than 62 percent of the vote. A bold push of right to work is just what Fitzgerald needs to position himself as the bona fide next-in-line.

Earlier we speculated that Walker feared an Act 10-like meltdown in Madison that would result from right to work. That’s the result of the governor’s renowned strategic savvy. But the fallout has been muted, to say the least.

While a scant few thousand gathered today and will tomorrow in Madison to protest, sing, and chant, they’re mostly the same old bleacher shouters. Meanwhile, Dem politicians have offered limp denunciations. The best One Wisconsin Now can muster is that “Right to Work is Not Right for Wisconsin.”

In the final tally, right to work will be regarded as anti-climactic. It also won’t create a trillion new jobs tomorrow – in fact its economic impact is being oversold by some. The reaction and protests weren’t a biggie. There will be no recalls or vacations to Rockford.

What right to work will do, however, is boost the careers of some bold conservatives. Vos, maybe. Fitz, definitely. And because of the ho-hum reaction muting the governor’s concerns over chaos at the capitol, Scott Walker – who now can claim Wisconsin has made America a 50/50 right to work nation – is, in a most unlikely way, the biggest winner out of the right to work maneuver.

LISTEN (apologies for the gaffes…)

About the writer: Chris Rochester is editor in chief of Morning Martini. He’s a communication specialist with experience in the private sector and on various campaigns. He's the communications director for the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy. Commentary here is strictly his own.
  • Jerry Hanson

    I can’t believe what I just read. RTW won’t have much of an economic impact but it will promote the careers of two conservative politicians Vos and Fitzgerald and it will make Scott Walker a winner. Is this the level to which Wisconsin government has sunk? I had always thought that the purpose of government was to serve the people, not to promote the careers of politicians. However as I look back on the past 4 years you are indeed correct. The Walker government has been all about satisfying his goal of higher office. It is shameful that legislation such as RTW is being foisted upon the public as being about something else!

    • kenvandoren

      There is some irony in the fact that Walker is claiming credit for passage or RTW, when BEFORE legislative leaders insisted that it be brought up, he told everyone who would listen that he wanted it put on the back burner. Disingenuous?