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Wisconsin Senate approves right-to-work bill, sends to state Assembly

Reuters logo Reuters 2/26/2015 By Brendan O'Brien

The Wisconsin Senate narrowly approved a "right-to-work" bill on Wednesday that would bar private-sector employees who work under union-negotiated contracts from being required to join their unions or pay them dues.

The bill, which would make Wisconsin the 25th U.S. state with a right-to-work law on the books, cleared the Republican-led Senate on a 17-15 vote following hours of debate marked by periodic angry shouts from opponents watching in the Senate gallery.

Supporters of organized labor chanted "Shame!" as the legislation was passed and sent for further consideration to the state Assembly, where Republicans also hold a majority.

One Republican senator, Jerry Petrowski, broke with his party to vote against the measure.

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a possible Republican presidential hopeful, is expected to sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

Workers gather outside the State Capitol building in Madison © REUTERS/Brendan O'Brien Workers gather outside the State Capitol building in Madison

    Walker drew accolades from conservatives across the nation in 2011 when he ushered through legislation curtailing the powers of most public-sector unions in Wisconsin amid large protests at the state capitol in Madison.

    Supporters of the right-to-work measure contend it could attract more businesses to the Midwestern state, while opponents see it as an assault on organized labor that would limit union revenues.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Scott Malone, Lisa Lambert, Andre Grenon, Eric Beech and Kim Coghill)

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