Walker says right to work shows state is ‘open for business’

BROWN DEER – As he signed the right-to-work bill, Gov. Scott Walker touted it for sending a powerful message that “being open for business is more than just a slogan.”

Walker’s signature on the bill yesterday made Wisconsin the 25th state to prohibit requiring employees pay union dues as a condition of employment. In doing so, Walker used a hypothetical example of who right-to-work would help, describing a family with the father working at a factory and the mother as a nurse in a local community hospital. With two kids, they’re struggling to make ends meet, he said.

“This is one more tool helping us build the kind of economy that will help a family like that here and across the state of Wisconsin,” Walker said.

* Listen to Walker’s speech

Walker signed the bill at a company where the CEO has cited right-to-work as a key factor in deciding to add 30 to 50 jobs at a Wisconsin plant.

Badger Meter President and CEO Rich Meeusen said the positions will be posted shortly after new equipment is installed in August.

Meeusen told those gathered that his company has eight production facilities, four of which are in the U.S. He said all of the others are in right-to-work areas and the company has sent much of its production during the past 10 years to other states and Mexico. But now that right-to-work is law, there is an opportunity “to reverse that trend.”

He told reporters he doesn’t talk to the unions currently representing Badger Meter employees but said he “assumes they’re not happy about this bill.” But Meeusen said he believes he will be better able to attract new employees now that they know they won’t be forced to pay union dues, and he stressed that pay and benefits will not be reduced as a result of the new law.

The president is bemoaning the new law, saying he is deeply disappointed and calling it “anti-worker.”

President Obama said in the statement late yesterday it is inexcusable that there has been a “sustained, coordinated assault on unions, led by powerful interests and their allies in government.”

“So even as its governor claims victory over working Americans, I’d encourage him to try and score a victory for working Americans – by taking meaningful action to raise their wages and offer them the security of paid leave,” Obama said. “That’s how you give hardworking middle-class families a fair shot in the new economy – not by stripping their rights in the workplace, but by offering them all the tools they need to get ahead.”

Walker fired back the president should be looking to the states as examples of how to grow the economy, especially after vetoing legislation that would have approved the Keystone XL pipeline, and said Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is down to 5 percent despite a stagnant national economy and lack of leadership in Washington, D.C.

— By Kay Nolan
For WisBusiness.com