MADISON, Wis. (CN) - The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly passed a right-to-work bill, 62-35, Friday after an extraordinary session that lasted 24 hours.
Gov. Scott Walker, a likely Republican contender for the 2016 presidential election, has said he expects to sign the bill into law by next week, which will make Wisconsin the 25th right-to-work state.
Assembly Bill 61 follows the example of right-to-work laws in other states, making it illegal to require private sector employees to join unions, pay dues or participate in collective bargaining. None of the proposed amendments, all by Democrats, were approved, and neither was the late-night proposal that the bill be moved to an outside committee.
Republicans characterized the bill as a job creator and a move toward individual worker freedom.
"The vote is easy for those of us who ran on liberty," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said, wrapping up the last hour of debate on Friday morning.
Democrats criticized it as another union buster from Wisconsin's right wing, the first being Act 10 in 2011, which limited the collective-bargaining rights of public employee unions to wages only. Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, questioned Republicans' "sudden" concern for workers.
"It would be laughable if it were not so absurd," Mason said on the Assembly floor.
Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, said the bill would make for a big change in the state - but that change would be for the better, regardless of Democratic doomsayers.
"The data that I see debunks the garbage that I hear, Mr. Speaker, that this is going to be terrible," he said.
The left also had plenty of criticism for the bill's timeline: it was introduced in a hurry, they said, as a distraction from a controversial budget as a means of supporting Gov. Walker's presidential bid.
"I think this is a huge mistake in good government," Rep. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee, said on the Assembly floor.
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