Is right-to-work right for Wisconsin?

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Posted Monday, January 19, 2015 --- 8:46 p.m.

The Wisconsin Contractor Coalition now represents 350 businesses that oppose right-to-work legislation.

WCC spokesman Steve Lyons says, "We agree with Governor Walker that this is a huge distraction."

Governor Scott Walker made no mention of the right-to-work debate in his State of the State Address last week, but has called on the Legislature not to take it up.

Lyons explains, "We have over 350 private sector businesses from all over the state saying, 'please, we don't want more government intrusion, make this bill go away.'"

The legislation would prohibit private sector workers from being required to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment. Lyons says it looks to fix a problem that doesn't exist in Wisconsin.

He adds, "The Governor has said we don't have a jobs problem, we have a workforce problem."

But Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and 81 percent of its members disagree. Scott Manley, the organization's Vice President of Government Relations, says right-to-work will boost job growth and keep Wisconsin in line with states that have seen recent booms, like Michigan and Indiana.

Manley says, "Since they adopted right-to-work, Indiana has actually grown almost 10,000 jobs from companies who actually express that their status as a right-to-work state was a positive factor in their decision to locate in Indiana."

He says private-sector businesses favor right-to-work states.

Manley adds, "Roughly half of businesses consider whether or not a state is a right-to-work state as a pass fail test in terms of whether or not they want to locate or invest there." 9 secs

Lyons disagrees. He says right-to-work isn't a top priority for many job-makers.

According to Lyons, "Skilled workforce, infrastructure, a strong tax policy, all of those things are what private companies are interested in, this right to work issue is simply a non-issue."

There also seems to be disagreement when it comes to wages in right-to-work states. Those opposed says salaries decrease, but supporters say when you factor in cost-of-living statistics, those in right-to-work states have, on average, $2,000 more in disposable income.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who has supported this in the past, says the debate over making Wisconsin a right-to-work-state could happen as early as this spring, after the April election.