MADISON, Wis. – During a tele town hall, a Ron Johnson supporter and UAW 578 member described the senator’s answer to why he wasn’t fighting to bring more than 1,000 good paying jobs to his hometown of Oshkosh as “rhetoric.”
See more of the exchange below.
The American Independent: Ron Johnson tells Wisconsin worker not to worry about losing jobs to South Carolina
A union worker pressed Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) on Wednesday about his refusal to push a local defense contractor to keep jobs in Wisconsin. Johnson argued that if a major Wisconsin business sends 1,000 jobs to South Carolina, it will be good for the Badger State.
In recent weeks, Johnson has been under fire for comments suggesting that Wisconsin already has plenty of jobs and refusing to urge Oshkosh Defense — a manufacturing company based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, that is owned by one of Johnson’s biggest campaign funders — to build postal vehicles in the state.
The company, which received a massive contract last year to build the United States Postal Service’s next generation of delivery vehicles, announced last June that it would create a new facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and would hire “over 1,000 local team members” there to manufacture the fleet.
Members of the United Automobile Workers union at the company have been pushing for the Oshkosh Defense to instead build the vehicles in Wisconsin.
During a telephone town hall, a constituent named Jason — a self-described Johnson supporter and a member of UAW Local 578 who works at Oshkosh Defense — asked the senator why he is “in favor of moving the postal contract to South Carolina.”
In response, Johnson blasted the media’s coverage of his statements as “inaccurate” and “grossly dishonest reporting.” He then went on to argue that his “job is not to micromanage a private company.”
Jason responded, telling Johnson, “Spending money on union workers and keeping the jobs in Oshkosh on a livable wage is more important.”
The Republican senator answered that the real threat was that Oshkosh Defense’s contract could get canceled “on some flimsy environmental excuse.”
“As long as Oshkosh gets the contract, that will benefit Wisconsin, Oshkosh, and Oshkosh workers,” Johnson argued. “A more financially stable company will benefit union workers and Oshkosh. You’ll have the engineering, you’ll have the management, who knows how many component parts might be shipped out of some of your plant locations and down to South Carolina.”
But while Johnson parroted what the company’s management told him, he ignored the counterarguments being made by the UAW leaders.
“We have a huge pool of skilled laborers who are ready to get to work,” Bob Lynk, the president of UAW Local 578, said in a discussion hosted by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) last Thursday.
“Our workmanship is second to none, so building the next fleet of USPS trucks will be something we are more than capable of handling. In addition, our workforce, we have the facilities to build these vehicles,” Lynk added.
According to the AFL-CIO’s legislative scorecard, Johnson has “voted with working people” just 8% of the time over his political career.
Despite promising to serve no more than two terms in the Senate, Johnson announced in January that he will seek a third term in November’s midterm elections. Polls suggest that may be an uphill fight, given his approval ratings have sunk to around 35%.
In another telephone town hall last Tuesday, another constituent grilled Johnson about what he was doing to address the lack of “good-paying jobs” available in the state.
Johnson responded by telling the caller that “economic development is not universally distributed” and that “really good-paying jobs” are available but “you do have to look around.”