Wisconsin: The next right-to-work victory

That could be soon, as the state Senate is poised to take up right to work with hearings beginning early next week and a vote to follow. Republicans control the state Senate 18-14 and we hear they have the votes to pass it. The Assembly will follow.

A month ago Mr. Walker called right to work a “distraction” and seemed to hope it would go away. But credit for pressing the issue goes to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and Mr. Walker may have concluded the smarter politics is to go along. A poll released in January by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce found that 69% of likely voters support right to work, which merely gives workers the choice of whether to join a union and pay dues. Unions have been threatening an ad campaign against the measure, but GOP legislators survived such efforts in Indiana and Michigan.

Private union membership has been falling in Wisconsin, to 8.2% of the non-government workforce in 2014 from 20.6% in 1984, according to Unionstats.com based on numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Mr. Walker’s 2011 collective-bargaining reforms dealt with government unions, but thousands of private workers in Wisconsin must still pay union fees even though they’d rather stay out of a union.