Democrats were quick to jump on a report Wednesday that Foxconn was backing away from its promised financial investment in Wisconsin. Too quick, it now appears.
Japan business publication Nikkei Asian Review published a report (that has since changed) claiming that Foxconn plans to cut back on its initial investment in the state. However the Journal Sentinel published an article containing a statement from Foxconn saying otherwise:
“Foxconn can categorically state that our commitment to create 13,000 jobs and to invest US$10 billion to build our state-of-the-art Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park in Wisconsin remains unchanged,” the company said in a statement. “Foxconn is fully committed to this significant investment and to meeting all contractual obligations with the relevant government agencies.”
Later, the Asian Review changed its headline from, “Foxconn to cut back on initial investment of $10bn Wisconsin plant,” to “Foxconn opts to make smaller displays at Wisconsin plant.” A sub-heading under the new title reads “Major Apple supplier says $10bn investment plan is unchanged.”
Democrats, who have pinned their 2018 election hopes, in part, on investing in failure in the Foxconn development couldn’t hide their glee, re-posting the original article and spreading the news on Facebook. That included the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Representative Gordon Hintz and Senator Jon Erpenbach, along with many others.
Democrats zeal to see the Foxconn development fail was exposed again, along with their red faces.
Democrats running for governor are pledging to end GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s union restrictions, while Walker is promising to veto any changes to Act 10 if he wins re-election and Democrats take control of the Legislature.
Act 10 — adopted amid massive protests shortly after Walker took office in 2011 — brought the governor national attention and helped fuel his brief presidential run.
The measure all but ended collective bargaining for most public workers and required them to pay at least 12% of their insurance premiums and half the contributions to their pensions. The changes saved state and local taxpayers — and cost public workers — billions of dollars.
Democrats view the law as a move by Walker to hobble organizations that have long backed Democrats in elections.
The nine Democrats seeking their party’s nomination in the Aug. 14 primary said they would seek to reverse Act 10, while Walker touted the savings it has brought to taxpayers.
“The far-left Democrats who want to undo it will open the door to massive property tax increases or reductions in school staffing — or both,” Walker spokesman Austin Altenburg said in a statement. “Scott Walker will not let that happen and will continue to support reforms that put more resources in the classroom to improve the education of our students.”
Walker would veto any attempt to change Act 10, Altenburg said.
Act 10 ended the ability of public-sector unions to negotiate over anything but wages, and they were barred from seeking increases that were higher than inflation. Police and firefighters were exempted from key parts of Act 10.
All the Democratic candidates said they were committed to overturning Act 10, but many of them acknowledged it would be difficult to change the measure if Republicans held onto their majorities in the Legislature.
Repealing Act 10 would give workers a chance to seek higher wages, which would raise costs for taxpayers. The Democrats said state and local officials would be able to work out deals that are good for both taxpayers and workers.
The issue prompted one Democratic candidate to take a swipe at another.
“Unlike Mahlon Mitchell, I never sucked up to Scott Walker, praising Walker’s record and offering to work with Walker to destroy workers’ rights,” Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said in a statement.
Mitchell is the head of the statewide firefighters union. When Walker first unveiled Act 10, Mitchell applauded Walker for exempting firefighters from much of the measure, but soon afterward he joined the Capitol protests to try to stop Act 10.
Soglin, a frequent figure during the 2011 protests as he campaigned for mayor, noted he was against Act 10 from the start and said he was “the only candidate that implemented workarounds to lessen the adverse impact on public employees.”
The workarounds he cited include establishing a committee to get input from rank-and-file employees and setting up alternative procedures to handle workplace complaints, worker discipline and getting feedback from employees about workplace safety and the equipment they use.
Responding to Soglin’s criticism, Mitchell campaign manager Jacob Dusseau said Mitchell fought against Act 10, saying Mitchell “stuck his neck out” by running for lieutenant governor in 2012 in one of the recall elections sparked by the union restrictions.
“While Mahlon led the charge against Walker’s attack on workers, it was then mayoral candidate Soglin who was trying to get in on the spotlight,” Dusseau said.
Mitchell, who has won endorsements from several unions, said he was committed to eliminating Act 10.
“Act 10 was about unchecked power, and crippling political opponents of the governor,” Mitchell said in a statement. “I would repeal Act 10 in whole.”
Mitchell said the state could pay for any increase in costs by eliminating a tax break that prevents manufacturers and farms from paying state income taxes.
Tony Evers. The state schools superintendent backs repealing Act 10, said his campaign manager, Maggie Gau. If Republicans continue to control the Legislature, Evers believes a compromise could be reached that would give workers more bargaining power but still require them to pay a portion of their health care and retirement costs.
“Tony is supportive of returning collective bargaining rights to public employees,” Gau said in a statement. “It’s important for employees to feel valued and to have a say in their workplace and their benefits.”
Matt Flynn. The former state Democratic Party chairman said he would eliminate Act 10 and was unwilling to compromise on the issue.
“Act 10 has been a disaster for workers in Wisconsin,” Flynn said in a statement. “I will only accept a total repeal.”
Andy Gronik. The Milwaukee businessman said he supports collective bargaining, including for health care and pensions, but also believes workers should pay a portion of the cost of those benefits.
“I’ve said throughout my entire candidacy that I don’t want to fight the battles of the past, but instead move forward and examine how we can best bring workers back to the bargaining table, so their voices are heard and considered,” he said in a statement.
He added: “I believe cost sharing for health care and pensions is fair, reflects the realities of the private sector and is consistent with my business practices.”
Mike McCabe. He said he would repeal Act 10 and pay for any increased costs by legalizing and taxing marijuana, phasing out the state’s school voucher programs, eliminating business subsidies and making sure “taxpayers at every income level pay their fair share.”
“Act 10 is not a workable or sustainable policy,” the liberal activist said in a statement. “Teachers are demoralized and feeling devalued and disrespected, and are fleeing the profession as a result.”
Kelda Roys. The former state representatives of Madison would eliminate Act 10, said her spokesman, Brian Evans.
“Ensuring that workers have a voice in their workplace leads to an experienced and fairly compensated workforce, as well as fully staffed state offices and departments that meet the needs of all Wisconsinites, including veterans, patients, and children,” Evans said in a statement.
Kathleen Vinehout. The state senator of Alma said she would repeal Act 10 because she believes it has decimated schools.
“Employee benefits (are) not the problem,” she said in a statement. “Reversing the downward spiral of the last seven years will take concerted, bipartisan effort, but the quality of our schools in all parts of the state and the future of our children depends on it.”
Dana Wachs. The Eau Claire state representative said he would get rid of Act 10.
“We need to fully fund our public schools, including paying teachers a family-supporting wage. And we pay for that by prioritizing our schools and the essential functions of government, not billion-dollar deals for foreign corporations and special interests,” he said in a statement, referring to the incentive package Walker gave to Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group for a massive Mount Pleasant plant.
Yes, if you want to go back to the days when public employee unions ran the state and taxpayers were screwed by every level of government, vote Democrat.