Thursday, November 5, 2015

Dean Knudson provides the biggest cop-out excuse yet of the Oscar Mayer plant closure

GOP transformed WI with unprecedented jobs reforms, and all workers got back were Kohl’s Cash rewards

It was announced this week that the Oscar Mayer plant in Madison would be shutting its doors down for good over the next year or so. The closure means 1,200 employees will be out of a job, with the corporate arm of Oscar Mayer moving to Chicago and its blue collar jobs most likely heading to Davenport, Iowa.

Naturally, many are upset about losing a historical Madisonian landmark that has been around for as long as anyone living in the community can remember. Political leaders were not exempt from this sense of loss, and expressed their outrage, sadness, and bewilderment at the proposed move.

Democratic State Sen. Jon Erpenbach expressed himself through his Twitter account:

And Cap Times reporter Jessie Opoien quoted Erpenbach’s additional statements in another tweet:

But one other lawmaker chose to stand up for Oscar Mayer, and expressed disgust at Erpenbach’s characterization of the plant closure. Rep. Dean Knudson, a Republican in the state Assembly, noted that closures were happening around other parts of the country too, and took issue with Erpenbach and others for politicizing the closure.

Knudson is right about one thing: there are closures elsewhere (though the Madison closure accounts for more than 46 percent of the layoffs of all of them). But why should that exempt criticism? Didn’t we pass legislation to not only ensure businesses would stay in the state, but that they’d be tripping over each other to get here too? That’s the way that Gov. Scott Walker characterized each and every job “reform” that he and legislative Republicans passed.

Ending the Department of Commerce and replacing it with the private-public hybrid Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation was supposed to create jobs. It hasn’t, and the group has spent millions of dollars in failing to produce meaningful job growth in the state ever since its inception.

Ending collective bargaining rights for state workers, and making Wisconsin a right-to-work state was supposed to free up dollars for investment, resulting in a trickle-down effect and creating more jobs. That hasn’t panned out either, and some economists believe we actually lost jobs as a result of those policies.

The state’s law strengthening punishments against businesses that paid women less than their male counterparts was supposedly stifling job growth, according to Walker and Co. But the law’s repeal early in his tenure didn’t secure new business development -- it only lessened the ability for women to seek equality in the workplace.

And yes, closures happened elsewhere. But Iowa and Illinois, where Oscar Mayer is moving its corporate and blue collar jobs away from Madison, both have higher corporate tax burdens than the state of Wisconsin.

If removing collective bargaining rights, reducing the impact that union workers have in bettering their lives in the workplace, repealing equal wage laws, and wildly spending untold millions of taxpayer dollars through the WEDC cannot retain one of the biggest manufacturing plants that the capital city of this state has to offer, then what can?

And it’s not just Oscar Mayer: Wisconsin is set to see more than 10,000 layoff notices in 2015 alone. We could even double the number of layoffs seen last year.

But yeah, I guess Rep. Knudson is right -- we shouldn’t politicize this. Because, if Republicans have taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t politicize anything bad that ever happens. That’s in poor taste, and I suppose their sensitive egos just can’t handle it.

Forgive me for the blatant sarcasm -- I’ve had enough of these BS commentaries from supposed “masters” of economic success. Wisconsin is failing, and much like the Roman Emperor Nero, Republicans would rather play the fiddle and watch the state burn to ashes than do anything positive for a change, much less accept valid criticism of their effectiveness as leaders.

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