By Michelle Hilt
Manufacturing is the backbone of our state’s economy.
From employing over one-in-seven of our state’s residents to being responsible for a fifth of our economic output, every Wisconsinite should be proud of the role manufacturing has played in our state’s past and present.
I know I am as someone who worked in manufacturing at Hufcor Inc. in Janesville for 23 years, and whose husband worked there for 37 years. Together we were able to comfortably support our family and live a decent middle-class life.
But under the reckless agenda Republicans like Ron Johnson have supported, that’s all changed.
I watched Hufcor, a company that had been in Janesville for over 120 years, get bought by an equity firm and our jobs outsourced to Mexico within two years time. Ever since, my husband and I have struggled to find jobs that pay a fair wage.
We have seen many of our old coworkers struggling as well. This has also been devastating on many small businesses in our community as more and more people are losing their jobs to outsourcing and must cut back on their spending.
In fact, during Johnson’s two terms in the U.S. Senate, Wisconsin has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs. During that time, not only has he praised outsourcing jobs overseas, he actually voted to give corporations that ship jobs overseas a massive tax break—a vote that disgusted workers like me. He’s even said that he wouldn’t try to get Wisconsin’s own Oshkosh Corporation, which happens to be a big donor to Johnson’s campaign, to keep jobs in Wisconsin.
Johnson’s betrayal doesn’t stop there. Just last month, he voted against two of the most important bills Congress has considered this year, plans that will boost American manufacturing. Instead of working alongside Democrats to support the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, he sided with special interest groups over working Wisconsinites.
That’s not the kind of advocate Wisconsinites need, and that’s why I’m supporting the candidate who’s actually got a plan to undo the damage Johnson and Republican politicians have done to Wisconsin’s manufacturing industry and re-invest in local businesses: Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes.
In Madison, Mandela has worked to help allocate federal funding to ensure that 100,000 businesses from Milwaukee to Superior got the resources they needed to keep their doors open and keep their workers employed.
He’s also said he’d prioritize passing legislation to repeal Johnson’s tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs to foreign countries, and has been outspoken about fighting to reverse Oshkosh Corporation’s decision to send 1,000 jobs to South Carolina.
Unlike Johnson, Mandela also supports the bipartisan “Made in America Act” sponsored by Sen. Baldwin, which will ensure that all major federally funded infrastructure projects support American businesses, manufacturers, and workers.
And when it comes to tackling the many ways climate change will impact our state, Mandela has pledged to invest in our agriculture, transportation, energy, and food systems to encourage sustainability while creating more jobs and opportunity across the state.
By supporting legislation to boost local manufacturing, fighting to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, and backing efforts to strengthen labor protections and protect workers’ rights, Mandela has already proven that he will be the champion for workers that Johnson has refused to be.
It’s pretty clear that Ron Johnson isn’t up to the task of keeping our jobs in the Badger State, but I know that Mandela is. That’s why I’m voting for him on November 8—and if you believe Wisconsin workers deserve a real champion in Washington, you should too.