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Fitzgerald On Highway Workers: Too ‘Cozy’ With Management

Majority Leader Says Relationship Costs State Money

Monika & Tim (CC-BY-NC-SA)

The top Republican in the state Senate says road contractors and union workers have a “cozy” relationship that drives up project costs, and a pending right-to-work bill will help change that.

After right-to-work passed the Senate last week, Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said that Wisconsin’s current labor laws are part of a system that artificially bolsters wages. Fitzgerald said that’s particularly true between road building contractors and their unions.

“That’s kind of a very cozy relationship right now, and as a result of that, I think it does control the flow of labor in and out of those industries,” Fitzgerald said. “And as long as that continues to happen, I think it’s artificially going to keep the costs up associated with those projects.”

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Fitzgerald said outlawing mandatory union dues under the Republican right-to-work bill would partially address that issue.

The Wisconsin Contractors Coalition, which is fighting right to work, questioned why a good relationship between employers and employees was a problem.

Former Republican Assembly Speaker John Gard lobbies for the WCC. He told Wisconsin Public Television that contractors and their workers give the state a great value.

“This notion that there’s some good relationship with employer and employee — is that like a bad thing?” said Gard. “I mean it doesn’t make sense, as far as I’m concerned, from the standpoint of employers and employees should not be in a constant state of combat. That is not productive. It’s not good for families, it’s not good for communities, it is certainly not good for the economy.”

The right-to-work bill is getting its final public hearing in the Legislature on Monday.