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Governor Talks Wisconsin Jobs, Mining and Education at Rotary Appearance

Gov. Scott Walker said, among other things, that he supported extending unemployment benefits through a worker's unpaid training period.

Gov. Scott Walker addressed job growth, responsible mining and the pressing need for skilled labor on Tuesday while speaking to a full house of almost 300 people at the Milwaukee War Memorial Center.

The Milwaukee Rotary Club sponsored the appearance, during which Walker fielded questions from an audience without a protestor in sight.

Will skilled labor save Wisconsin?

The governor thinks so. Walker said he's noticed a trend among small manufacturers — while there are jobs galore available and employers are desperately in search of employees, there are just not enough people to fill these jobs with the right credentials.

"One of the most frustrating things for me, is employers telling me that they have jobs, but they don't have enough skilled workers to fill those jobs, particularly in manufacturing," he said.

Walker said he believes this "disconnect" stems from parents of today's young people remembering manufacturing in a less than friendly light.

"Sometimes I think it’s because their parents who worked in manufacturing remember 15, 20, 25 years ago, that manufacturing meant dirty jobs, meant layoffs when jobs went to China and Mexico and instead, that’s not happening," Walker said. “We need to tell our young people, not just that there are jobs available, but there are good, decent careers in manufacturing.”

Walker proposed bridging this gap by working toward dual enrollment. This would allow high school students to simultaneously take classes that would go toward high school graduation and a technical school degree.

“If we get ahead of the curve, particularly as a state, if we aggressively move more people into those jobs, those careers, it’s not only good in terms of unemployment, it will make us competitive as a region, as a state, with anyone in the world,” he said.

He also proposed extending unemployment benefits for recently hired workers in select cases. If someone was required to have a few weeks of unpaid training on a new job, Walker proposed that their unemployment check would not stop until they are officially on that company's payroll.

Environmentally responsible Wisconsin mining

While Walker said clean air, land and water are paramount to Wisconsin's tourism and agriculture industries, he said there has to be a way to find a balanced approach to sustain the environment and create more jobs, particularly in the mining industry. 

He proposed that if Wisconsin expanded into mining, 2,300 people could find work.

"Those are good paying, generational, long-time jobs that can help put our people back to work," he said.

But Democratic Party Communications Director Graeme Zielinski said Walker is missing other opportunities to develop energy jobs that respect the environment. Zielinski was not able to attend Walker's speech but responded to elements of his message afterward.

"He turned his back on the train, on solar energy, he’s turning his back on wind energy, he’s cutting funding programs that create clean energy jobs here — there may be a path for creating more clean energy jobs here but he has shown no leadership on this, he’s making this up as he goes along," Zielinski said.

Using the state’s flag, Walker pointed out the miner and badger on the front to further elucidate his point that Wisconsin is not the badger state because of the animals, it's the badger state because of the heritage.

"Because the people who came to this state came here with the goal of living the American dream by earning a living mining," Walker said.

A 250,000 job promise

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article published Saturday pointed out that Wisconsin has lost private-sector jobs for six consecutive months, and positioned that trend against both positive national trends and Walker's promise to create 250,000 private-sector jobs during his term.

"I have a goal, and I still do, ... to (help the private sector) create 250,000 jobs," Walker said.

Zielinski said he doesn't believe Walker will reach his goal because he's "well behind that," but Walker reminded everyone his claim since he ran for governor was 250,000 by 2015.

"Remember, the goal was to help the people of the state create 250,000 jobs by 2015. It's 2012," he said. As a parallel, Walker talked about Vince Lombardi and how it took four years for the Green Bay Packers to reach the World Championship.

"Just like how we have plans to go from major losses of 150,000 jobs, leveling things out in 2011, and hopefully start the path to see things move in 2012 and beyond," he said.

mau March 09, 2012 at 09:26 PM
My dad didn't slightly undercut anybody. He charged low prices and besides providing credit with no interest, he even bartered for pay. Their was a stack of unpaid bills dating back 50 years prior to his death. Talk about the executor of his estate trying to collect on those bills. And being a business in a farming community, he had no local union competition. He was getting harrassed by the urban unions because they wanted a foothold. There are many non union business that follow safety laws and provide a safe environment for their workers or are not a sweat shop. Not every union business provides a safe environment. Unlike you I see a place for both union and non-union business. So that makes me a hypocrit.
mau March 09, 2012 at 09:29 PM
@Hoffa, was the bridge at Chappaquiddick built by the teamsters :)
James R Hoffa March 09, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Attention Fellow Walker Backers - This Is A Call To Arms: Proudly show your support for Governor Scott Walker, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and our fellow State Senators at a rally being held at Brookfield Square Mall on Saturday, March 24th from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. For more information on this event, brought to you by the same grassroots team that organized the highly successful 'Celebrate Walker' rally, please visit the official homepage for the event here: http://www.facebook.com/events/307338025994069/ Hope to see you all there!!!
Bren March 10, 2012 at 05:28 AM
Yes, if you are asking about environmental issues in Michigan, the Kalamazoo River has been polluted for 20 months after a pipeline leaked bitumen. The oil from shale mining is mixed with chemicals so that it will flow through a pipe. These evaporated during the spill, fumes getting into the eyes and throats of people living in the area. Some oil floats on top and they suction that off, but most sunk to the bottom of the river. They have to "agitate" the water so that oil globs lift. In Ohio, a well that takes the polluted water that is used in shale oil mining has been determined to be the cause of a number of small earthquakes in the surrounding area (the water is "injected.") I posted the link to the report indicating that GTAC and other mines in MN and MI have had about $10,000,000 in clean up orders, violations, stipulations, etc. Steve, the soil content is important in this type of mining because if pyrite is in the soil, it creates sulfuric acid in the waste products after the removal of iron ore. Three samples were taken independently by geologists-one sample was found to contain 20% pyrite. Apparently, the mining bill used erroneous language that defines "sulfide ore body" as meaning that other minerals are present, which is not true. It suggests that someone knew something about the potential presence of other minerals and wanted to keep it quiet.
Steve March 10, 2012 at 06:04 AM
It's not a soil sample but an exploration drilling core sample. Soil or overburden is removed before mining to get down to the "rock". Only one core? Before mining a lot of core samples are taken to find the ore body's width and depth. I hope they found some pyrite "The oxidation of pyrite (iron sulfide) by molecular oxygen produces iron(II), or Fe2+:" would be a crappy mine without iron

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