By Mike McCallister,
Greater Milwaukee Green Party

Despite single-digit and falling temperatures, some 300 Milwaukee unionists and their supporters rallied against anti-union “right to work” legislation being hustled through the state legislature this week.

The rally was organized over the weekend through a new Facebook group, Defeat “Right to Work” in Wisconsin:

The Greater Milwaukee Green Party was an early endorser of the rally, to be joined by most of the area’s major unions, Wisconsin Jobs Now, Voces de la Frontera, and the Coalition for Justice.

Among the speakers were:

  • Nate Hamilton, whose brother Dontre was murdered by a Milwaukee police officer on April 30, 2014, spoke to the rally on behalf of the Coalition for Justice.
  • Angela Walker, who ran for Milwaukee County Sheriff as an independent socialist candidate last fall, spoke on behalf of Wisconsin Jobs Now.
  • A representative of the UW-Milwaukee Graduate Assistants Association, which bargained on behalf of teaching assistants at the UWM campus, before Act 10 banned collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin. He noted that if this bill passed, the union movement would be back to Square One. He argued that learning from the militant (and politically independent) tactics of early 20th century unionists would be valuable going forward.
  • Leaders from Teamsters Local 344, United Food and Commercial Workers, United Auto Workers, United Steel Workers at Caterpillar, Milwaukee Teachers Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers Local 212 at Milwaukee Area Technical College

Following the speakers, demonstrators took to the streets of Downtown Milwaukee. The peaceful, spirited march made it around the Grand Avenue mall, past the Chase Bank building, and back to Zeidler Union Square, where activists were urged to continue the action in Madison over the next two days.

Ironworker’s Statement on #WageTheftBill in WI (Randy Bryce)

My testimony on #WageTheftBill (that was not allowed to be read before the committee due to GOP cowardice)
By Randy Bryce

My name is Randy Bryce. I have been a member of Ironworkers Local 8 since 1997.

I’ve had the privilege in that time to work on many of Wisconsin’s landmarks, private businesses, and, numerous parts of our infrastructure.
Prior to this, after leaving the US Army with an honorable discharge, I had several jobs that had no bright future, but, allowed me to pay my bills. (usually two jobs at a time)
One day, a friend of our family – a physician who had a patient that was the former ironworker apprenticeship coordinator let me know that the ironworkers were taking applications. I hated the job that I was at. It was in a dirty warehouse, and, I dreaded going into work every day.
I applied. I had never done construction work before. After going through the application process, I finally made it onto the apprenticeship list. I’m not going to go into great detail explaining how my apprenticeship went, because I understand that this body has a bill that they’d like to ram through before the rest of the state is aware of how horrible it really is. I’ll be as brief as possible.
Fact is, the ironworker’s apprenticeship has the ability to take unskilled people off of the street, and, gives them a career that they are proud of. They taught me everything that I needed to know in order to now have a career that not only takes care of my family, but, has me proudly pointing out every project that I worked on as I drive throughout the state to my son Ben.
That training isn’t cheap. But, WE pay for it through our union dues, and, from contributions from the contractors who hire us. The apprenticeship board consists of 5 union reps, 5 contractor reps, and, a rep from the state who meet monthly. Zero tax dollars are used. After passing the #WageTheftBill (lets not pretend that this bill involves rights or the ability to work) Michigan has found out that it is now lacking with skilled trades workers. They will soon be using tax money to train workers.
This horrible attack on the Building Trades is not good for anyone in the state. It is a blatant attack due to political ideologies. Sen. Fitzgerald admitted such when this idea was first mentioned when he sought to exempt certain unions who supported Republican candidates. (Unconstitutional) Proponents have admitted that it will not raise wages.
I am sure that you are all aware of the Wisconsin Contractor coalition – a group of around 400 private businesses – many of who donated heavily to Republican candidates – who are opposed to this bill. They see it for what it is – the government getting in the middle of how they hire their help.
We make those contractors a LOT of money. They CHOOSE to use us.
If we are not allowed to collect money from members who freely choose to join our organization, who will pay to train us? Why stop at collecting union dues. A college tuition freeze is nice, but, why not let the student get a degree, then pay what they feel it is worth? Why do groups who want to see this passed charge a membership fee? Wisconsin Manufactorers and Commerce charge fees. The Associated Builders and Contractors charge membership fees. Even ALEC charges membership fees – and I recall that taxpayers foot the bill for a few members of Wisconsin’s legislature to belong to that group. Think of all of the extra jobs that they could create if this bill only went a little bit further and actually addressed freeloading for all. Why not let people pay taxes based on how well they feel that they are being represented? (I think we know how that would turn out)
Another aspect of what is trying to be sold is that this bill gives workers a choice. There already is a choice. If somebody wants to do what I do for a living, there are plenty of open shops that already exist. People are free to go work there. They won’t get the same training that our union dues pay for, and, they probably won’t make the same amount of money as a result, but, they exist. Their lessor wages are what I refer to as their “nonunion dues”. It’s the cost that they choose to be paid for not joining a highly skilled workforce.
The ironworkers created the first union in order to pool money together in order to give someone killed on the job a decent burial. Because of what we saw that could be done by looking out for each other, we were able to demand safer working conditions. Our trade is annually listed among the top 5 with regard to having a high mortality rate, but, it is a lot better than it used to be.
The union that I belong to is self insured. We get no sick days or holiday pay. As stated before, we pay to self train. Our instructors are experienced journey men ironworkers.There is ZERO burden on the taxpayer. The 4 year apprenticeship has members graduate with no student loan debt. Once graduating to Journeyman status, one can work anywhere in North America with a network that has been set up to attract skilled labor when an area faces a shortage. We have no seniority. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Our vacations are taken understanding that we will not get paid for the days that we are on vacation. All of our representatives are elected. All of the decisions that we make are voted on. The general membership is given monthly reports on how every dime is spent. Every dime spent is voted on. Unlike what is taking place this week, Ironworkers local 8 is PURE. DEMOCRACY.
 Every single member of the legislature is cordially invited to come view our training facility. When running for state senate, I made it a point to invite members of the opposition party to see what we do.
 I am disappointed beyond words at not just what this bill contains, but, how it is being passed. I am proud to be among those who build Wisconsin. My job is construction. This bill is demolition.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak my mind. Because I belong to a union, I was able to take off of work today and not fear that I would lose my job.

Wisconsin Mass Layoffs, 2015 to now (VIa WORKnet)

(The number of workers laid off is in the 2nd column from the right edge of table)


12-Feb-15 Sealed Air Corporation Sturtevant Other Misc Chemical Product Mfg 325998 Closing 300 3-Apr-15
8310 16th Street (Update)
Sturtevant, WI 53177
contact: Randall Wilkins, Regional HR Mgr
6-Feb-15 10-Feb-15 Lake Arrowhead Association Nekoosa Golf Courses & Country Clubs 713910 NewLayoff 36 6-Apr-15
1195 Apache Lane
Nekoosa, WI 54457
contact: Joel C Barth, GM
2-Feb-15 9-Feb-15 Cahaba Safeguard Administrators, LLC West Allis Direct Health & Medical Insurance Carriers 524114 New Closing 21 6-Feb-15
1015 West National Avenue
West Allis, WI 53227
contact: Monique Houser
5-Feb-15 9-Feb-15 Staples, Inc. Oak Creek Office Supplies & Stationery Stores 453210 New Closing 53 5-Apr-15
120 W Opus Drive
Oak Creek, WI 53154
contact: Sara Edwards, HR generalist
5-Feb-15 5-Feb-15 Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP Green Bay Consumer Paper Products 322121 NewLayoff 89 13-Apr-15
1919 South Broadway
Green Bay, WI 54304
contact: Larry Harkness, HR Mgr
2-Feb-15 4-Feb-15 Verifine Dairy Products of Sheboygan, LLC Sheboygan Fluid Milk Mfg 311511 New Closing 70 30-Apr-15
1606 Erie Avenue
Sheboygan, WI 53081
contact: George Toney, HR Business Partner
2-Feb-15 2-Feb-15 Sealed Air Corporation Sturtevant Other Misc Chemical Product Mfg 325998 New Closing 300 3-Apr-15
8310 16th Street
Sturtevant, WI 53177
contact: Randall Wilkins, Regional HR Mgr
29-Jan-15 30-Jan-15 Hampton Products International Corporation Shell Lake Wood Window & Door Mfg 321911 NewLayoff 29 1-Apr-15
W7041 Woodcraft Road
Shell Lake, WI 54871
contact: Linda Weber, Director, HR
16-Jan-15 16-Jan-15 Frontier Airlines, Inc. Milwaukee Scheduled Passenger Air Trans (Call Center) 481111 NewLayoff 138 31-May-15
555 Air Cargo Way
Milwaukee, WI 53207
contact: Ms Jacalyn W Peter
14-Jan-15 14-Jan-15 Mid Valley Industries, LLC Kaukauna Machine Shop 332710 New Closing 110 18-Mar-15
1151 Delanglade Street
Kaukauna, WI 54130
contact: Michael Polsky, Esq. — Receiver
7-Jan-15 11-Jan-15 Soderholm Foods LLC Sun Prairie General Line Grocery Merch Whls 424410 New Closing 34 7-Mar-15
1100 Wilburn Road
Sun Prairie, WI 53590
contact: Brian A Zilo, Director of HR
6-Jan-15 9-Jan-15 Oakview Care Center Durand Skilled Nursing Facility 622110 New Closing 65 9-Mar-15
1220 Third Avenue West
Durand, WI 54736
contact: Doug Peterson, CEO/President
7-Jan-15 8-Jan-15 ShopKo Stores Operating Co., LLC Ashland Discount Department Stores 452112 New Closing 29 15-Apr-15
1800 Lake Shore Dr. E
Ashland, WI 54806
contact: Susan Buckna, VP Assoc. Gen. Counsel
7-Jan-15 7-Jan-15 Mittera Wisconsin, d/b/a/ Wisconsin Web Offset Brookfield Commercial Gravure Printing 323111 New Closing 56 15-Mar-15
21045 Enterprise Avenue
Brookfield, WI 53045
contact: Margie Gehringer Corp. HR Manager
7-Jan-15 7-Jan-15 JCPenny Oshkosh Family Clothing Stores 448140 New Closing 79 5-Apr-15
2175 s Koeller Street
Oshkosh, WI 54902-9203
contact: Kristin Lane, VP HR
7-Jan-15 7-Jan-15 JCPenny Racine Family Clothing Stores 448140 New Closing 77 5-Apr-15
5900 Durand Avenue
Racine, WI 54306-5090
contact: Kristin Lane, VP HR
7-Jan-15 7-Jan-15 Market Day LLC Oak Creek All Other Business Support Services 561499 New Layoff 46 7-Mar-15
330 E Mahn Court
Oak Creek, WI 53154
contact: Russ Brondyke, Director of HR

Full downloadable XLS (spreadsheet files) here

Undercover at ACCE: ALEC Offshoot Spins City and County Officials

Undercover at ACCE: ALEC Offshoot Spins City and County Officials on Dirty Energy, Local Control

— By Steve Arnold, an alderman from Fitchburg, Wisconsin

Steve Arnold

Steve Arnold

In December, I attended the winter “policy summit” of the American City County Exchange (ACCE), a new venture of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). I’m a progressive, local elected official, focused on protecting and empowering every resident of my small (pop. 25,000) city of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, through things like better zoning laws, more transit service, and more inclusive public discussion. ALEC is a bill mill that advances the legislative initiatives of its corporate sponsors in state houses across the country, and now, perhaps in city halls and county court houses.So the trip was an effort to “know thy enemy.”

ALEC’s policy agenda requires a bit of acrobatics. Members feign attention to the “principles” of free markets, limited government, and federalism, but really use a diverse set of conflicting ideological props as needed to justify the often-concealed agendas of their corporate sponsors. For example, local control leads to a proliferation of local governments and districts, each requiring care and feeding by the public, a widespread but cherished form of “big government”. So ALEC puppet masters can invoke limited government or local control with opposite effects, depending on the circumstances.

Corporate Dating Service in Action

A workshop on “challenges facing energy developers” featured a panel with representatives from the natural gas producers association, investor-owned utilities, and the petroleum industry. The second panelist was infamous climate science denier and former ALEC staffer Todd Wynn, who now works for Edison Electric Institute, a trade association for utilities

– See more at: PR Watch

Undercover at ACCE: ALEC Offshoot Spins City and County Officials on Dirty Energy, Local Control – See more at:

Where is the Love for “Right to Work?” (Wis. Business Alliance)

Where is the love for “Right to Work?”

by Lori Compas

I spent this morning calling local chambers of commerce in Republican state senate districts in an effort to get their take on the so-called “right to work” legislation that is scheduled to be introduced at the State Capitol this week.

Since the State Chamber of Commerce, or WMC, is strongly supporting the legislation, I was curious to learn where local business associations stand on the issue.

Specifically, I wanted to learn the answer to this question: Is WMC really representing Wisconsin’s broad and diverse business community when it claims that businesses want legislators to enact “right to work” laws?

The answer was astonishing: I could not find a single Chamber in the districts of senators Fitzgerald, Cowles, Moulton, Petrowski, Nass, Lasee, or Harsdorf that supports “right to work.”

In fact, I heard statements like these again and again: “We’re not taking a position on that.” “We don’t take a stand on political issues.” “We only advocate for political issues when there’s a strong consensus among our members — and we don’t have consensus on this.”

Read the whole piece here on WBA site

Milwaukee Rally to Stop “Right-to-Work” at 5 p.m. Today.

Rally to Stop “Right to Work” in Wisconsin
5:00pm Monday Feb 23rd
Zeidler Union Square
4th and Michigan, Milwaukee, WI

We say: NO “Right to Work” for Wisconsin!


Plans to introduce so-called ‘Right to Work’ legislation are threatening to make Wisconsin the 25th state to eliminate all union contracts with mandatory dues as part of employment. This weakens working people’s right to collectively bargain for better wages and decent working conditions. So-called “right to work” states have much lower pay, workers make nearly $6,000 less per year. Workers also face 54% more workplace fatalities, 15% higher poverty rate, and 16% fewer health benefits, to name a few.

Worker’s are ready to fight ‘Right to Work’ because ‘Right to Work’ is not about democracy or choice, it’s an attack from big business on the working people of Wisconsin.

Sponsored by:
Defeat RTW in WI
AFSCME District Council 48
Occupy Milwaukee
Voces de la Frontera
Youth Empowered in the Struggle
Progressive Students of Milwaukee
Wisconsin Bail Out The People Movement
Greater Milwaukee Green Party
Bring Back the Fight
Fight Back News
Wisconsin Jobs Now

Twitter: @defeatrtw