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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Issue of the Week: When Is Enough, Enough?

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Last week, a snippet of the documentary As Goes Janesville was released that showed the newly elected Gov. Scott Walker chatting with billionaire Diane Hendricks, owner of ABC Supply in Beloit. Hendricks eagerly asked Walker, "Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions and become a right-to-work [state]?"

Walker responded that his first step would be to "deal with" collective bargaining for public employees "because you use divide and conquer."

So despite his public denials, Walker was privately plotting how to turn Wisconsin into a so-called right-to-work state.

What Walker is trying to do is to divide workers by making ordinary Wisconsinites battle for crumbs. And those who are doing the conquering? They're going to make out like bandits with tax breaks and gaping tax loopholes, thanks to the actions of the Republican-dominated Legislature.

In fact, Walker's confidante in the documentary—Diane Hendricks, whose personal wealth is estimated to be $2.8 billion—has no reason to complain. According to an investigation by the Institute for Wisconsin's Future, ABC Supply paid no state corporate income tax in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 (the most recent available tax data), even though the company's annual sales are close to $5 billion.

No wonder why Hendricks can afford to donate a whopping $500,000 to Walker this year. While that may be chump change to her, it would take the average Wisconsin worker more than 10 years to earn that amount of money.

So why is Hendricks complaining about workers' rights and fair wages? Doesn't she have enough money? Isn't ABC Supply thriving under the current state tax code? Must she take away what little job security workers have in Wisconsin so she can grab more for herself?

Unfortunately, campaign donors who are motivated by greed have the same agenda as Walker: Reward the rich, because they contribute to campaigns—and stiff the workers, since they oppose Walker and the elite 1% like Hendricks.

Isn't it time that this dysfunctional game ends?

Heroes of the Week
: Veterans Employment Alliance Volunteers

The Veterans Employment Alliance, headquartered in West Allis (8544 W. National Ave.), works to alleviate the problem of unemployment among military veterans.

In addition to advocating for veterans with employers and policy-makers, the Veterans Employment Alliance (VEA) is dedicated to helping veterans transition from military life to the civilian sector by providing workforce readiness and skills training. The VEA's Veterans Career Camp is a free two-week program designed to help veterans with their job searches. It boasted a 92% hire rate in 2011.

VEA programs depend upon volunteers for their success. Volunteers serve at special events, as peer support specialists and as facilitators at the Career Camp.

Readers interested in learning more about the group's mission and programs are urged to visit www.veteransemploymentalliance.org or call 414-510-0670.