Two of the state's top three Republicans would not say Monday whether they would support so-called right-to-work legislation in Wisconsin, but a third said such a proposal is not in the works.
Rapid-fire passage in Michigan of measures that would weaken private-sector unions has prompted speculation that Wisconsin may consider similar legislation, which has sparked mass protests in Lansing, Mich.
Gov. Scott Walker and incoming Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald both refused Monday through spokesmen to talk about whether Wisconsin would follow Michigan's lead. That state's Republican-controlled legislature is expected to approve legislation that would prohibit requiring private-sector employees who benefit from union bargaining to join the union or pay union dues.
However, the incoming Republican head of the state Assembly said he is not pursuing such a bill.
Walker's spokesman, Jocelyn Webster, declined to specifically comment on any potential so-called right-to-work legislation Monday, saying the governor is focused on other issues. Walker has previously called such legislation too divisive and said he has no plans to push such legislation. Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, also declined Monday through an aide to comment on whether he would pursue such a bill.
In 2011, Walker and the newly elected GOP-run Legislature eliminated most collective bargaining rights for most public employees, prompting demonstrations that drew up to 100,000 people to Wisconsin's Capitol.
However, a spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker-elect Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said Assembly Republicans don't have plans to restrict private-sector unions in Wisconsin when the Legislature reconvenes Jan. 7.
"Right-to-work legislation is not something that is being pursued this session in the Assembly," Vos spokeswoman Kit Beyer said. "That folder has been put away."
Said Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO: "We hope that next session the Legislature focuses on jobs, not partisan politics or attacks on working families."