By Lynda L. Jones
Last week it was learned that Wisconsin led the nation in job losses in October, and that most of those loses were in the Milwaukee area. Almost 10,000 jobs here lost while the state of Illinois gained some 30,000 jobs, and one of the largest contributors to that job loss impact was Governor Walker singlehandedly and proudly killing the high speed rail project.
It has been estimated that the high speed rail project would have created between 5,000 and 13,000 jobs. Similar high speed train job creation projects are proceeding in other states. Talgo will be ending its train manufacturing in Milwaukee in 2012 due to the cancellation of the Wisconsin high speed train, and heading where? Yes, to Illinois along with the thousands of jobs that they had projected for Milwaukee.
Several organization representatives gathered on Wednesday morning across the street from the Talgo Plant to mourn the loss of what was once a promise that gave hope for this once highly productive area.
Organizations represented included Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), 9 to 5, Urban Underground, Occupy the Hood, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, WI Jobs Now, AFT Local 212, WI State AFL-CIO, and Milwaukee Area Labor Council.
Sheila Cochran, secretary treasurer/COO of the Milwaukee Area Labor Council spoke to the crowd with a backdrop of replicas of tombstones with names of companies and corporations that have put Milwaukee on notice for layoffs and shutdowns, some 33 companies were represented.
Companies such as JC Penney-Asset Recovery Center, Durham School Services, WeatherShield, Cub Foods, G & K Services, Rock Tenn Co., Frontier Airlines, Robin Manufacturing, Ramada, and there were more. In fact, in route to the press conference it was learned that the WE Energies Metro North Service payment center located at 3100 W. North Ave. will be closing its doors permanantly on Jan. 27, 2012. This will leave the city with no more WE Energies payment centers, not only does that mean more job losses for Milwaukeeans, but it also makes paying another bill more complicated.
Cochran said that in addition to the RIP companies represented in the backdrop, there are another 45,000 types of notices from across the state. “What was once an area of promise, where a company like Talgo came to Milwaukee with good intentions and great expectations for this area, we are now facing a empty and barren parking lot.”
A reporter posed the question, “What about the republicans talking about all of the positive things that are working for Wisconsin?” The answer, Where?! What is working? Take a good look at Milwaukee… What is working… as people lose their jobs, and cannot pay their bills…and continue to lose their homes… What is working…your agenda is not working Governor Walker! That is what these organizations reprentatives who represent thousands of people want the governor to know, and HIS legislators, who rubberstamp his policies.
Unemployed individuals spoke as well. One man spoke on how he was directly effected by the cancellation of rail project, he worked on the landscaping area of the project. Walker became governor…no more job. He went and received training for working on windmills, again Walker steps in with policies that make this area more restrictive…again another job lost due to Walker. “He doesn’t speak with unemployed workers, I’ve been to some of his events where he speaks on job creation, but he won’t talk to unemployed workers,” the man said.
Robert Kraig, of Citizen Action of Wisconsin stated that Governor Walker’s Department of Revenue has already conceded that Walker will not reach his goal of creating 250,000 jobs.
“It’s not working Governor Walker,” was the chant from this gathering, and it is the chant for thousands of families in Milwaukee and throughout the state.