ALEC Right-to-Work Bill to Be Signed by Walker

By Mary Bottari and Jonas Persson.

After an all-nighter in the Wisconsin State Assembly, the right-to-work bill passed along party lines. Despite promises to the contrary, the governor has made it clear that he will sign it into law by Monday.

"I Will Stop Mentioning ALEC When You Stop Passing Their Bills"

With core components lifted word for word from an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) “model,” the bill was jammed through in less than two weeks. The bill’s Senate author, ALEC member Scott Fitzgerald (R-13), objected to this characterization and explained that the language was lifted from Michigan’s right-to-work law, yet that bill was also lifted directly from ALEC model legislation. ALEC passed out toolkits in 2013 (“You Can Too!”) describing how Michigan passed right-to-work using ALEC model legislation, and urging other states to do the same.

In the marathon session in the GOP-dominated Assembly, ALEC came up frequently prompting complaints from Republican lawmakers.

Rep. Bob Gannon (R-Slinger) said he was capable of coming up with his own legislative ideas and did not need help from ALEC.

But Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) tried to strike a deal: “I will stop mentioning ALEC if you stop passing their bills,” she said.

Governor Scott Walker is an ALEC alumnus who introduced a right-to-work bill as a freshman legislator in 1993. Both Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos are ALEC members. A quick look at the 2014 Statement of Economic interests shows that a number of Wisconsin legislators disclosed payments from ALEC totaling $15,967 to attend conferences in Dallas, Texas, and Washington D.C.

These include Reps. John Nygren ($3,613), Mike Kuglitsch ($1,887), Tyler August ($2,961), Dan Knodl ($2,900) and Jeremy Thiesfeldt ($4,606). Other legislators may have used other means to pay for their ALEC travel.

Anthony Anastasi, an Ironworker from Beloit, spoke at a noon rally outside the Capitol.

“This bill is for the money men, the Kochs and the hired guns at ALEC,” he said.

Support for the Bill Bankrolled by Bradley and Koch

More than 1,700 people registered against the bill during a Senate hearing last week. On the other side was a small group paid professionals. James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation, previously a Fellow with the Bradley Foundation, flew in to testify. ALEC and Sherk are currently pushing a legally-dubious effort to enact local right to work ordinances in Kentucky and other states, which was the subject of a front-page New York Times story.

Richard Vedder, a member of the ALEC “Board of Scholars” and the 2008 recipient of the ALEC “Adam Smith Award,” wrote a misleading report for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute purporting to show the benefits of right to work for Wisconsin. Michigan’s Mackinac Center is an ALEC member, and its director of Labor Policy testified in favor of Wisconsin’s right-to-work bill.

The National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC) was founded in 1955 by Fred A. Hartley, the senator who co-sponsored the Taft-Hartley Act, which gave states the right to impose right-to-work laws. The legislation was widely denounced as the Slave Labor Act at the time.

Today, the NRTWC is a $20 million-a-year union-busting powerhouse, bankrolled by rightwing interests, such as the Bradley Foundation and the Koch-money conduit Freedom Partners. Its Vice President Greg Mourad testified both in the Senate and Assembly hearings during which he compared Wisconsin union members to kidnappers and extortionists.

The Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity recently announced a huge statewide ad buy in support fo the bill. And AFP’s national leader, Luke Hilgemann, opined at length on the benefits of the bill in the Wall Street Journal this week.

Hilgemann was involved in a headline-grabbling scandal in Wisconsin a few years ago when a group he was associated with, United Sportsmen of Wisconsin, was given a $500,000 no-bid contract that was later cancelled after it was shown that the group improperly claimed a federal tax-exempt status during the process of receiving a grant.

Together, the groups supporting Wisconsin’s ALEC right to work bill have received millions from Koch family foundations and the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation run by Walker ally and former campaign chair Michael Grebe. (See below).

The Schoolteacher for Right to Work

Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), who attended the committee hearing in the Senate, was bedazzled by the star power behind the bill: "I did not see one person who was not paid to be there by a right-wing think tank. I was on the edge of my seat. I thought that any moment someone else might show up!"

On the floor, Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) pointed to the schoolteacher who came to testify for the bill. But Kristi LaCroix was later identified as being on the payroll of the Association of American Educators, an anti-union group whose purpose is to serve as a counter-force to teachers' unions. LaCroix cut an ad for Walker during the 2011 recall campaign.

Wisconsin will now join 24 other states with right-to-work laws – states with a higher incidence of workplace injuries and deaths, but lower wages and benefits. According to Abdur Chowdury, professor of economics at Marquette University, right to work legislation will suck as much as $4.5 billion out of the Wisconsin economy.

“The GOP is more concerned with advancing the rights of out-of-state special interests who write their campaign checks than protecting the rights and protecting the wages of hard-working Wisconsinites,” Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, said in a statement.


Bradley Foundation

Koch Family Foundations, Plus Freedom Partners




Heritage Foundation



Mackinac Center



National Right to Work Committee



Association of American Educators



Wisconsin Policy Research Institute




Americans for Prosperity




The above totals including funding from 1998 onwards. Numbers can be found in Sourcewatch profiles of Bradley Foundation, Koch Family Foundations and Freedom Partners.


Scott Walker's recent pronouncements on union busting ( or as Walker calls it..."significant foreign policy". For example, see: ), place him at the front and center of the current GOP clown parade. It was inevitable that Walker would do his best to bust private sector unions after having busted the Wisconsin public sector unions. Busting all those grammarians, librarians, Latin teachers, band directors and home ec teachers prevented them from lighting a fire under our kids. Take that Islamic State ( ISIS ) and prepare for Armageddon; Walker is going to dismember you...from your thuggish, barbaric union...with his marauding army of Wisconsin Republican legislators! :-) There's no limit to the anti-worker and anti-people mentality and policy viewpoints of Walker; he's just doing what his owners tell him to do.