After Interruptions By Protesters, Assembly Continues Marathon Right-To-Work Session

Says One GOP Lawmaker: 'We Believe In This'

Protesters gathered outside the Assembly chambers. Sarah Mittermaler (CC-BY-NC-SA)

Assembly debate over a bill that would make Wisconsin the nation’s 25th right-to-work state is carrying on into the night.

Things got off to a bit of a raucous start: When lawmakers finally started talking about the substance of the right-to-work bill on Thursday afternoon, they were cut off by a group of protesters in the gallery who started shouting. Even after they were removed, the protesters continued to chant outside the Assembly chamber.

Inside the chamber, many Democrats accused Republicans of carrying out Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential platform. Rep. Dean Knudson, R-Hudson, said that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

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“We believe in this. You’re not going to make us feel ashamed. We believe in it, and we’re quite confident we’re doing the right thing for the state of Wisconsin,” said Knudson.

Rep. Rob Kahl, D-Monona, said Republicans were acting against the wishes of private-sector employees and contractors who like Wisconsin’s labor laws the way they are now.

“You’re taking out the very people that, Mr. Speaker, have frankly supported you over the years. And you’re taking out 450 contractors,” he said.

Rep. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, told his colleagues that the United States is a republic, not a democracy, and that right to work embodies that.

“It’s the freedom of the individual that is most important,” he said. “Let them make the choice if they want to be part of this union or not. We don’t care if they do, we don’t care if they don’t. We care if they have the choice. Let the workers make that choice — the individual worker.”

Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, was incredulous at the suggestion that Republicans were looking out for workers.

“Unfortunately, it’s the workers in this state that are suffering through the politics of our governor’s ambitions. And I will ask today — I hope that no more of Wisconsin’s middle class has to be sacrificed on the altar of Scott Walker’s political ambitions,” said Mason.

Debate on the bill is expected to last well into Friday morning.