But as he prepares to take his record to the nation, Walker is getting blowback from back home. Republicans won clear control of both houses of the state legislature last November, and many are eager to press an aggressive conservative agenda this year. Topping their priority list is a right-to-work bill under which private-sector workers can’t be forced to join a union or pay union dues. A total of 24 states — including Iowa — are right-to-work. The latest additions to the list were heavily unionized Michigan and Indiana.
Yet Governor Walker has made it clear that he views the push for right-to-work as a distraction from his buttoned-down agenda of business, tax, and education reforms. Wisconsin state-senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald told WISN-TV last Sunday that “not much will happen” on the issue in the next few months. Fitzgerald said he understood Walker’s desire to avoid large protests like those seen in 2011, when Act 10, a law restricting public-sector unions, passed. “He’s concerned that if right-to-work would turn into Act 10, and that the Capitol is suddenly swarmed with protesters and everything we went through during Act 10, that it sends a strange message to people outside of Wisconsin that maybe Wisconsin isn’t the place to expand your business or, to certainly locate to,” Fitzgerald said.
Still, he has also warned Walker that “we can’t tiptoe through this session without addressing this.”