Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce ‘Business Day’ A Chance for Big Political Campaign Spenders to Check Up on Their Investment

Have Their Millions in Campaign Spending Influenced GOP's Sudden Rush To Pass Wrong for Wisconsin Right to Work Law?

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) is holding a “business day” at the state Capitol Wednesday as Republicans rush to pass a wrong for Wisconsin right to work law that their legislative leaders and Gov. Scott Walker declared was not on their 2015 agenda mere months ago. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross questioned if the heavy spending of WMC on behalf of the GOP is playing a role in their newfound support for a law that will hurt Wisconsin’s middle class.

“It sure looks like WMC is cashing in on their investment,” said Ross. “They spent millions of dollars to install Republicans in power, and now the payoff is a rush to pass a wrong for Wisconsin right to work law that cuts family wages by an average of over $5,000 per year for the benefit of CEOs.”

According to analysis of news reports, campaign finance filings and television ad buy information the WMC-run conduit funneled nearly 300 individual contributions to Republican politicians in the 2014 campaign cycle and they ran at least $4.5 million in advertising boosting Republicans running for office or attacking their opponents.

Ross noted that comparisons between states with and those without a right to work law vividly demonstrate how such laws hurts everyone, not just union members. In states with right to work laws average family income is over $5,000 less per year and six of the ten states with the highest unemployment rates in the nation have a right to work laws. Meanwhile spending on public schools is over $3,400 less per pupil and rates of poverty, individuals lacking health insurance and even infant mortality are higher.

WMC has made passage of a right to work law a top legislative priority. Neither Gov. Walker nor the GOP legislative leadership shared WMC’s enthusiasm for the law, which will bring lower wages for Wisconsin workers, until recently. In the state Assembly, slated to act on the bill Thursday, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke publicly declared in September 2014 that right to work was “off the table, I believe, in the next session.” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos similarly declared the legislation was not on the Assembly’s agenda in late 2014.

Gov. Walker in previous statements had gone even further, praising private sector unions as partners, said it was not part of his agenda in his 2014 campaign and earlier vowed he would, “do everything in my power” to keep right to work from reaching his desk.

Ross concluded, “Republican politicians from Gov. Walker on down are doing exactly the opposite of what they said they would do in 2014. So what’s changed? It looks an awful lot like the lobbyists for the CEOs more concerned about their bottom line than the welfare of Wisconsin families are calling in their chips.”

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.