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Wisconsin debates right-to-work proposal this week

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Union rights are on the table again at the Wisconsin Legislature this week, and a bill being debated there could make the Badger State the 25th in the nation with right-to-work laws.

The Associated Press reports right-to-work laws don't allow labor deals between unions and business that require private-sector workers to pay union dues. Those in favor of the legislation see it as a way to boost the economy and workers' freedom of choice. Opponents believe it hurts unions.

The debate is bringing flashbacks to heated union talks in Wisconsin during 2011, when Gov. Scott Walker proposed and the Republican-controlled Legislature approved what was known as Act 10, restricting collective bargaining for public employee unions. The controversy led to the unsuccessful recall of Walker and several lawmakers.

Republicans are working to move quickly on the bill, due partly to the potential public backlash, the Associated Press reports. According to Reuters, leaders have talked about the proposal since December.

The Associated Press reports Walker, who is a potential presidential candidate, said recently he would sign the bill if passed. He actually sponsored a right-to-work bill in 1993 when he was in the Legislature.

Indiana and Michigan both passed similar laws in 2012, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Michigan saw a decline in union membership from 2013 - 2014, while Indiana saw an increase of members in the same time period.

Minnesota looked into right-to-work laws that year as well, but did not approve it.

A public hearing on the bill in Wisconsin is slated for Tuesday, followed by the Senate Labor Committee debate Wednesday. The Assembly vote is anticipated the first week of March.

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