Walker Says He'll Sign Right-to-Work

The controversial measure will incense unions and could bolster Walker's profile among Republicans as he weighs a 2016 presidential bid.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the American Action Forum January 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the week Walker announced the formation of 'Our American Revival', a new committee designed to explore the option of a presidential bid in 2016. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) (National Journal)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said this week that he will sign right-to-work legislation if it gets to his desk.

In a statement issued Friday, Walker press secretary Laurel Patrick said: "Governor Walker continues to focus on budget priorities to grow our economy and to streamline state government. With that said, Governor Walker co-sponsored right-to-work legislation as a lawmaker and supports the policy. If this bill makes it to his desk, Governor Walker will sign it into law."

Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican, also said in a radio interview Friday that he is "confident" Walker will sign a right-to-work bill if it gets to his desk.

In an interview with WTMJ-FM Friday morning, Fitzgerald said: "Behind the scenes, the governor has been supportive of the idea that, 'Listen, if you guys really think you can get this through in a form that accomplishes what we probably want to do with right-to-work, then you know I'll sign it.'"

Fitzgerald said a finalized version of the bill will be out Friday afternoon, and Republican legislative leaders expect to see it passed by the upper chamber by next Thursday at the latest, at which point it will move to the state Assembly, where Speaker Robin Voss has already expressed his support. Republicans currently hold majorities in both chambers of the legislature.

Fitzgerald said Republican state leaders decided to act quickly on the controversial bill because they believe unions are gearing up to run TV ads targeting half a dozen legislators. "If that's the case, then that changes the dynamic. And I'm not going to wait around for that," Fitzgerald said.

Walker's previous fight with Wisconsin unions over the 2011 passage of Act 10, which restricted collective bargaining, led to major protests in the state capital and an unsuccessful effort to recall Walker in 2012.

Walker's willingness to pick fights with organized labor has made him a hero to some Republicans and has helped bolster his standing as a potential 2016 presidential contender.

American Majority Action executive director Matt Batzel, who was a strong supporter of Walker during his 2012 recall election, said he "expects protests, which will only help Scott Walker."