Right To Work Voted Through By Labor Committee Republicans Amid Uproar

Hearing Chambers Erupts In Commotion After Committee Chair Cuts Testimony Short

Shawn Johnson/WPR

Senate Republicans cut a public hearing on right-to-work legislation short on Tuesday night before voting to send the bill to the Senate floor, causing an uproar among the dozens of people who had been waiting hours to speak.

The Senate Labor Committee began the hearing at 10 a.m. Sen. Steve Nass, the committee chairman, had scheduled the hearing to conclude at 7 p.m., but at about 6:20, he suddenly adjourned it.

Democrat Sen. Chris Larson tried in vain to object to the abrupt wrap-up, saying: “What the hell is this? Excuse me, how many people are still waiting? How many people are still waiting to be heard right now?”

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Dozens of people who had been waiting to speak leapt to their feet, shouting profanities. The committee voted amid the din. Nass’ office said later the vote was 3-1 in favor, clearing the way for a full Senate vote on Wednesday.

Nass said the reason for shutting down the meeting early was that he was informed of a “credible threat” that unions wanted to disrupt the meeting.

The threat he referenced came from a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel saying members of unions and the group Voces de la Frontera would stand up to object when the meeting ended.

Voces Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz said they never planned to interrupt the meeting.

“There was no credible threat, and he’s a coward,” she said.

You can watch a video of the pandemonium as lawmakers were escorted from the chambers below:

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with details on what happened in the meeting, and why it was adjourned early.

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