Wisconsin enacted a new law intended to limit the power of private unions on Monday. Governor Scott Walker signed the measure, which will prohibit private unions from collecting union dues from workers who do not want to join them or do not want to pay the dues. Wisconsin is the 25th state to enact such a law.
Nicknamed the "right-to-work" law by supporters, unions leaders have opposed the measure. Opponents to the law say that it will allow workers to become "free riders" and receive the benefits that come from union representation for free. Unions must represent all workers that fall under a particular contract, whether they are members of the union or not.
Gov. Walker believes the new law will encourage business growth in Wisconsin. Similar laws have been long-standing throughout many areas of the South and in other traditionally conservative areas of the country. Prior to Wisconsin, the most recent states to adopt such measures were Michigan and Indiana.
Interestingly, Gov. Walker assured voters, in 2011, that he was not interested in taking measures against private unions. He further said that private unions play an important role in boosting Wisconsin's economy. These statements were made while Gov. Walker was fighting to take away the collective bargaining powers of government unions.
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With this new law, Gov. Walker has aligned himself more with conservative leaders, and reneged on a campaign promise he made to voters, where he stated that he would do everything he could to prevent a right-to-work bill from affecting the private sector. Now, the governor says that his promise only applied to his first term in office.
In the United States, labor unions have historically played an important role in protecting workers' rights, and ensuring that workers receive fair pay, fair benefits, safe working conditions and other important rights. Workers are also protected by various civil rights laws and employment laws. If you believe that your employment rights or civil rights are being compromised on the job, you may be able to seek justice and financial restitution under the law.
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