While Gov. Scott Walker was holding a closed door “job creation forum” at the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, nearly 100 Milwaukee area commuters and wage workers took time on a rainy week day to greet him with a spirited picket line asking where are the 250,000 jobs he promised to create during his 2010 election campaign.
Patrick Fuhrman, a land surveyor for 30 years, told people who came to join the picket line that his former employer thought they had 18 months for work for him, because of plans for a high speed rail line connecting Milwaukee and Madison. After Walker and former governor James Doyle killed the project, he didn’t have a job at all.
“But I’m resilient” said Fuhrman, so he spent $2000 training for a new job, as a wind mill site assessor. “Then Walker slammed another door in my face with his severe restrictions onwind mill placements. Thanks to him, it’s just about impossible to put a wind mill anywhere in the state.”
Walker’s campaign for governor emphasized two themes: creating 250,000 new jobs, and bringing his lunch to work every day in a brown paper bag. According to information handed out by Jobs Now Wisconsin during the protest, Since Walker took office, 45,192 people have lost jobs in the state due to mass layoffs, unemployment has risen from 7.4 percent to 7.9 percent, and Wisconsin has catapaulted to the second highest rate of initial unemployment claims in the nation.
Jobs Now Wisconsin sharply criticized the decision to cancel high speed rail projects as costing 8,491 jobs in construction and rail cars. Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce worked to bring the Talgo manufacturing plant to the city’s abandoned Tower Automotive site to build cars for the rail line. The project would also have provided a fast, smooth link for Milwaukee to Madison commuters, part of an eventual high speed link from Chicago to the Twin Cities in Minnesota.
Representatives of Wisconsin Jobs Now attempted to enter the building to present their concerns to Gov. Walker and MMAC, but were blocked by four Milwaukee police officers. After communication between the police and the governor’s staff inside, citizens gathered outside were informed that he would not speak to them.
“This is how Scott Walker does legislation” commented a Vietnam-era military veteran, “in closed door corporate meetings. That’s why I’m here, that and $10 trillion in unfunded wars.” Fuhrman added “”This is the way Scott Walker follows through on promises to create 250,000 new jobs.”
The four police officers on the scene maintained a disciplined respect for the First Amendment, intervening after 45 minutes as the numbers on the picket line grew, to maintain a three-foot-wide space next to the building where pedestrians could pass, and communicating genially with picket captains about the arrangement.