Wisconsin GOP Rushing Through Farrow-Brooks Bill, a Government-Sponsored Kneecapping of Private Sector Unions
As Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker prepares to reveal a new budget which has already been labeled more radical than his previous radical budgets, reports out of the dairy land suggest that a bill is being fast-tracked in the Republican controlled legislature that represents a direct attack on organized labor.
The Farrow-Brooks bill would act as a government-sponsored kneecapping of private sector unions that would allow employers to reduce the amount of hours a union member can work without union approval. It is essentially a bargaining end-around that forced Wisconsin Democrats to immediately release a statement. They did not see the need for poetry or hyperbole calling it, simply, “an attack on private sector union bargaining rights.”
Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) argued that this is merely the first step in Wisconsin Republicans’ new effort to wage war on private sector unions instead of public.
“Republicans began their war on bargaining rights with Act 10, and with this bill they have now turned their attention to private sector unions. This bill is a clear opening shot at undermining private sector unions.”
State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) added,
“This is the beginning of ‘divide and conquer’ part two. The Farrow-Brooks bill says that private sector unions shouldn’t be able to negotiate for their members. It’s one more step toward their goal of ending the right of Wisconsin citizens to have their voice heard in the workplace.”
Walker has in the past feigned the appearance of a friendly relationship with private sector unions, calling them a “partner in economic development.” The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes that Walker “has consistently downplayed seeking any restrictions on private unions in public statements.”
The Farrow-Brooks bill was introduced on Friday. A public hearing and committee vote could come as early as tomorrow. State Senator Julie Lassa is not fooled by the hurried approach, though, saying,
“They’re rushing this bill through to keep it below the radar before members of private sector unions and the public have a chance to react.
Assistant Assembly Democratic Leader Sandy Pasch noted that he and Lassa had worked on legislation that would accomplish a similar goal without infringing upon unions rights.
Sen. Lassa and I have authored legislation that accomplish the essence of AB 15 and SB 26, without increasing the risk of lawsuits or undermining the ability of unions to represent the rights of their members. I urge the Republican authors of this flawed legislation to slow down and work with us in a bipartisan manner to ensure that we avoid completely unnecessary conflict and delay in implementing a work-share program.
As explained by Think Progress, that anti-union bill is being sold as a “work-sharing program,” something that has passed in other states.
The Wisconsin GOP is moving this bill under the guise of creating a “work-sharing” program, which is an idea aimed at using government support to allow businesses to cut back worker hours while not laying off employees (with the government picking up the tab for the hours workers miss). However, “in all but one of the 24 states with work-sharing laws, union representatives must agree to the reduction in hours for their members.” Wisconsin’s bill does not include a similar requirement.
So here we sit, again just a match strike away from another Wisconsin GOP vs. Organized Labor firestorm in the new posterchild state for irresponsible, ideological mistreatment of workers. The Tea Party flame of 2010 may have diminished nationwide, but the anti-labor gall of the Wisconsin GOP rages on.