According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, three members of the Mercury Marine union petitioned the company for a third chance to vote on a compensation package that the union overwhelmingly rejected on August 23rd.
To some they are heroes, three union workers at Mercury Marine Inc. whose desperate petition drive gave their colleagues one last chance to accept contract concessions and save their jobs. To others, they represent a crack in the shell of organized labor.
However the three are viewed, it is clear that the efforts of Rick Schmidt, Fred Toth Jr. and Felipe Rodriguez led to the referendum Thursday and Friday in which Mercury Marine employees accepted a wage freeze and other concessions - and preserved the status of the outboard engine-maker as one of the biggest employers in the Fox Valley.
"When the time comes to fight for your job and your family, that's what you are going to do," said Toth, 46.
As hard as it is for employees to accept wage and benefit concessions, it is equally difficult for corporate and government officials to grapple with the increasing costs of doing business in Wisconsin under the current leadership in Madison. Companies like Mercury Marine are hit especially hard by downturns in the economy, as fewer families can afford recreational vehicles like boats and motorcycles. To add insult to injury, Governor Doyle raised taxes on families and employers by nearly $3 billion this year alone.
In June, we learned that Milwaukee County is facing budget shortfalls for the remainder of 2009 and 2010 due to sharp declines in tax revenue and state aid. Unlike Governor Doyle, my plan to deal with declining revenues did not include raising taxes on hardworking families or employers. Instead, we proposed a plan to cut county spending across the board, freeze employee wages at current rates and implement a mandatory 35 hour work week for all county employees. Like Mercury Marine, my goal was to avoid more permanent employee layoffs down the road.
Facing similar challenges this week, Manitowoc County Executive Bob Ziegelbauer told county union representatives to go back to the drawing board with a wage-reduction proposal. Their plan was just a fraction of what the county needed to save in order to avoid laying off more workers or raising taxes on families already struggling to survive.
During times like these, it might be easier to abandon ones’ principles in favor of a more politically expedient solution, but I campaigned on a pledge to spend the taxpayers’ money as if it was my own. I kept that pledge, and I will do it again if given the opportunity to serve as your Governor.
There is bi-partisan agreement that the environmental reform legislation known as “Cap-and-Trade” is bad for Wisconsin and the nation.
During a recent listening session on health care, Senator Russ Feingold said he could not support cap-and-trade legislation because it would put Wisconsin at a competitive disadvantage with other states and countries.
The Lakeland Times reported:
Feingold also said he has not been a supporter of so-called cap-and-trade proposals, and he compared the issue to global warming, at least with respect to gaining cooperation from other nations. "You know, the other countries won't play ball," he said of his attempts to get the international community to work together on global warming. "Maybe we should impose tariffs. We should put some pressure on them. They cannot be given a free pass, and we cannot do cap-and-trade alone." Feingold said his lack of support for cap-and-trade and his votes to cut spending have sometimes put him at odds with the Obama administration.
Senator Feingold joins dozens of Congressional Democrats in opposing federal legislation like the Waxman-Markey bill, which would tax carbon emissions and disproportionately harm Midwestern states like Wisconsin, which rely heavily on Canadian crude oil and coal for energy, and on energy-intensive manufacturing jobs that fuel our economy.
I share Senator Feingold’s concerns about legislation that would hurt our local economy and make it more difficult for Wisconsin to compete in a global marketplace. If elected Governor, I will balance environmental concerns with the need to maintain and grow good paying jobs in our state.
A new report by the Wisconsin Taxpayers’ Alliance shows that only nine other states tax their citizens more than Wisconsin. My good friend Representative Mike Huebsch has the details:
Last week, the non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayers' Alliance released a report showing that the state income tax claimed about 3.3 percent of personal income in 2007. Only nine states tax their residents more. Wisconsin income tax per capita averaged $1,137, which is higher than Illinois, Michigan and Iowa. That was in 2007. Expect those numbers to grow now that the 2009 state budget has become law. Governor Doyle and Democrats who run the legislature created a new income tax bracket and increased the capital gains tax, while delaying some deductions and eliminating others. The growing income tax burden is compounded by a long list of tax and fee hikes also packed into the state budget. Rising property taxes, new phone taxes, and more fees mean the portion of your income being spent by Madison politicians is growing exponentially. For a list of the taxes and fees paid by middle class families, see my May 29 E-Update. For a list of all taxes included in the state budget, check my July 10 E-Update.
For years, too many politicians in Madison have ignored this looming crisis so they could continue to spend more taxpayer dollars. Their solution to soaring budget deficits and record job losses is to call for more government spending, paid for with higher taxes on Wisconsin families and employers.
I understand that Wisconsin families are struggling to make ends meet. The last thing they need is a government that continues to grow faster than their ability to pay.