Thursday, November 5, 2015

Oscar Mayer is yet another WEDC/ WisGOP economic failure

Obviously, the news of Oscar Mayer closing its Madison plant was a big blow to this area yesterday. And since I've been busy, I haven't had a lot of time to go too deep into the subject, but here are a few reactions on that, and the bigger picture in the state.

First, I'll forward a great article from Chris Walker at Political Heat, who notes that every "open for business" argument that WisGOP has made in the last 5 years was shredded with the announcement of the Oscar Mayer closing.
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 (WEDC) 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...

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?
Good question, Chris. I'd say maybe that whole WisGOP philosophy of "lower wages and lower taxes" isn't something that makes much of a difference. Maybe we should try something else, like try to improve the advantages the state has (or used to have), like attracting talent through better wages, better education, and a high quality of life?

This especially goes toward WEDC, who was allegedly created to have the "flexibility" to incentives that could intercede and prevent the loss of large-scale employers like Oscar Mayer. But instead, WEDC was caught with its pants down, and then Gov Walker lied to reporters about it.
Walker told reporters Thursday that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. had offered assistance to the company, which it later rejected. But a WEDC official later said the only state assistance offered was $194,800 in tax credits in 2013 to Kraft Food Group for a $4 million investment in the Madison offices, which the company turned down in 2014.

By contrast, officials in Iowa and New York announced incentive packages to keep some Kraft Heinz production in their states.

Kraft Heinz announced Wednesday it is closing its Oscar Mayer headquarters on Madison's East Side and cutting 1,000 jobs by early 2017. It had previously laid off 165 non-union employees in August, but Walker and local officials have expressed surprise at the decision to close the nearly 100-year-old plant.

Walker said his office learned about the closure plans Wednesday along with the city of Madison and Dane County.
And James Rowen at the Political Environment points out that Oscar Mayer is far from the only large closing in the state announced this week, including a dairy plant in Madison, a Target store closing in Milwaukee, and consolidations over at Quad/Graphics. There also was the announcement today that S.C. Johnson is moving 175 jobs from Racine to Chicago. When Walker was asked about the S.C. Johnson losses, he just blew it off and claimed Chicago "attracts [marketing jobs] globally." WHAT THE FUCK? Why can't we offer that in Wisconsin, Scotty? So much for competing for talent and really being "open for business."

But wait, there's a special session coming this week. Maybe they'll take brisk action to get to the bottom of this state's economic struggles and change course. I'm kidding! They're going to increase the power of big money in elections and get rid of the Government Accountability Board. Shows you what the real priorities are with WisGOP, doesn't it?

These guys gotta go, from the top to the bottom. And I'm starting to wonder if we can afford to wait to get rid of them.


  1. Thanks for the H/T Jake! Great article as always.

    1. No, thank YOU. It's our job to point out who's hitting the right points and directing others to them, because I don't count on our media to have the honesty to do so

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  2. The Target in Superior and its 85 jobs as well, don't forget. I like shopping there myself.

    I would have thought its position would be helped if there were 600 good-paying Kestrel Aircraft jobs in the city, jobs that the WEDC has failed to insist upon the creation of in exchange for the millions thrown at the company.

    1. Good point on Kestrel. Funny how WEDC was all proactive for a company that still hasn't made anything in Wisconsin, but got caught by surprised when am existing maker moves out.

      Actually, I think we know the real reasons with this. Because it's ALWAYS politics and propaganda with this crew