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Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive

Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive

Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive. Before moving to Green Bay in 2008, he was the Assistant Director of Human Resources for Milwaukee County. A graduate of UWM in 1971, he moved to Madison, where he was Executive Personnel Officer and Technology Manager for the State Department of Employment Relations. He is a former Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Brown County, Director at the Human Resources Management Association of S.E. Wisconsin (now SHRM), and Technology Commission Chair for the City of Franklin. Bob is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force (1965-1971).

GOP "Right-to-Work" Show Moves On to Assembly Hearing

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 03 March 2015
in Wisconsin

rtw-outside-2015The Republican fast tracked bill would ban any requirement that nonunion members in the private sector pay union dues. The majority of those speaking Monday were against the measure, viewed as a distraction from Governor Walker’s harmful budget.


MADISON - Six days after the Senate Labor Committee held it's controversial public hearing on the same subject, the Assembly Labor Committee heard testimony into the night on Monday on Assembly Bill 61 – the so-called “Right to Work” bill. The bill would ban any requirement that nonunion members in the private sector pay union dues.

Just like last week's Senate hearing, where opponents vastly outnumbered supporters, the majority of those speaking Monday at the Assembly Labor Committee were also against the measure.

The few supporters, including the state chamber of commerce, said they represented many other people who were reluctant to speak publicly. Backers argue that the change will make Wisconsin more competitive with other states, in particular Indiana and Michigan, and allow workers to decide whether they want to pay union dues rather than have them deducted automatically.

Union members, construction contractors, and other opponents reiterated their arguments that the measure would weaken unions, leading to lower wages and unsafe workplaces. They also questioned who really wanted the law, given that coalitions representing hundreds of contractors and other businesses had formed in opposition, and said it was wrong to rush the bill through in less than two weeks.

peter_barcaIn a statement released after the hearing, Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said:

“We just heard hours of thoughtful, compelling testimony from business owners, workers, researchers and everyday citizens who agree that ‘Right to Work’ is wrong for Wisconsin and recognize that it will drive down wages and hurt our middle class. I want to thank everyone who came out today – including those who drove hundreds of miles and waited hours to testify – against this destructive legislation.

“‘Right to Work’ is a distraction from Governor Walker’s harmful budget and it will keep pushing Wisconsin’s economy in the wrong direction. Even the governor himself has said private-sector unions are important partners in economic development efforts that put people to work – efforts the governor and Republican legislators are undermining with this bill.

“We as elected officials must be doing everything we can to restore economic opportunity for our citizens, not tear it down. As Professor Chowdhury from Marquette testified today, this bill would take $3.89 billion a year out of the Wisconsin economy.

“Democrats stand ready to debate this harmful legislation on the Assembly floor and continuing to work toward a stronger economy for Wisconsin.”

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Walker Says Wisconsin Workers are Like ISIS at CPAC

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Friday, 27 February 2015
in Wisconsin

scott-walker-cpac15"If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," he said. Walker has been trying to exaggerate the 2011 peaceful protests and subsequent recall election into some kind of noble stand against "union thugs" for years.


WASHINGTON - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is trying to give himself some chops in foreign affairs at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington this week. Speaking on Thursday, Walker criticized President Barack Obama's handling of the threat of "radical Islamic terrorism", but gave little substance on how he'd address the challenge himself.

But then, the Presidential hopeful Walker got carried away with himself.

"We need a president, a leader, who will stand up and say, we will take the fight to them and not wait until they bring the fight to America's soil, to our children and our grandchildren," Walker said.

Later, when asked by an audience member about how he'd deal with the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Walker responded that he gets FBI threat briefings from his adjutant general and that "without divulging confidential information," he's been concerned about the group for years.

But he didn't offer a specific answer to how he'd take on the group, instead pivoting back to his experience in Wisconsin.

"If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," he said.

It was a reference to Walker's attack on labor unions in Wisconsin, where his move to strip public employees' collective bargaining rights caused months of protests in 2011, and turned him into a rock star on the right. His Republican supporters in the state legislature are continuing his agenda with a so-called "right-to-work" bill this week.

Reporters were quick to jump on the Wisconsin Governor with no foreign policy experience. Did he really mean having some protesters with picket signs outside his office was similar to an attack by terrorists? Walker is still trying to clarify his statement.

Walker has been trying to exaggerate the 2011 peaceful protests and subsequent recall election into some kind of noble stand against "union thugs" for years. But, ISIS?

Will the national press and conservative voters let this one stand? Only time will tell.

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Republican "Right to Work" Public Hearing Turns into Mockery

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 25 February 2015
in Wisconsin

rtw-walkoutThe three Republican members showed little interest and asked few questions. The public hearing turned into a complete mockery when chairman Nass said he was cutting off the meeting because of what he called a "credible threat" that turned out to be a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report saying union demonstrators were planning to peacefully disrupt the committee vote.


MADISON - Nothing usually gets decided at public hearings. They are mostly an exercise to make the public feel heard. But the GOP majority failed Tuesday to even do that at the Senate Labor Committee public hearing they had hurriedly staged for the so-called “Right to Work” Bill.

About 2,000 demonstrators showed up outside the Capitol earlier in the day to keep the politicians honest and the “hearing” had proceeded peacefully for about six hours. Committee chairman Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater)introduced several witnesses from Bradley Foundation and Koch Brothers funded Republican think tanks to support the legislation and a long parade of small businessmen and labor union representatives, mostly from the Building Trades, to oppose it. Other private citizens, almost all opposed, then gave their testimony.

The three Republican members on the committee showed little interest and asked few questions, leaving that work up to the Democratic Senators Bob Wirch of Kenosha and Chris Larson of Milwaukee.

The public hearing turned into a complete mockery shortly before 6:30 p.m. when committee chairman Nass said he was cutting off the meeting abruptly because of what he called a "credible threat". What Nass called a "credible threat" turned out to be a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report that said union demonstrators were planning to peacefully disrupt the committee vote by raising their voices if Republicans didn't let everyone from the public testify.

Nass called for a quick vote on the measure and the fearful Republicans exited the room. The vote was 3-1, with all three Republicans voting for the bill to prohibit requiring workers to pay union dues and one Democrat, Sen. Wirch, voting against. The other Democrat on the committee, Sen. Chris Larson, did not cast a vote as he and people in the room argued unsuccessfully for Republicans not to take the vote at that moment.

Afterwards, hundreds of business owners, union members, veterans, and just plain concerned citizens sat in stunned silence in the room waiting to speak. Many have been waiting since eight in the morning.

"There was no threat," Bruce Colburn of the Service Employees International Union state council said. "We wanted to ensure that people had a right to speak."

"They used it as a straw man to get out of a very uncomfortable position," AFSCME Council 48 Executive Director Boyd McCamish added. "It's an act of political cowardice."

The so-called “Right to Work” Bill now moves on the Republican controlled Senate and Assembly where quick passage is expected.

The bill has also spotlighted Governor Scott Walker's stance on the measure. In May 2012, the governor said he would do "everything in my power" to keep the legislation from getting to his desk. But Walker, who is now eyeing a run for the presidency, has said in recent days he would sign the bill.

dave_hansenIn a statement released earlier today, Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) commented on the events in Madison saying:

“Senate Republicans once again have shown their disdain for those who disagree with them by shutting down the public hearing this evening on legislation that will cost Wisconsin families over $5,000 a year in lost wages, increase child poverty and create more dangerous working conditions.

“As Wisconsin business owners, workers and veterans waited to testify Senate Republicans chose to shut the hearing down early rather than continue listening to the overwhelming testimony against the bill.

“Senate Republicans talk about less government intrusion but the fact is Senate Bill 44 is one of the most intrusive bills of all because it denies Wisconsin employers the right and freedom to run their businesses as they see fit.

“It is unfortunate that at a time when our state needs to work together to move our economy forward governor Walker and Senate Republicans have chosen to continue their attempts to “divide and conquer” Wisconsin families.”

peter_barcaAssembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) released the following statement after Republicans shut down a committee public hearing on their so-called "Right to Work" bill:

"I am deeply disappointed that Senator Nass and Republicans did not at least live up to their promise of holding the public hearing until 7:00 tonight. Slamming the door on public testimony and silencing the hundreds of people who have come all day to testify is just another abuse of power by Republicans and an affront to our Wisconsin values of open, honest and transparent government.”

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State GOP Rush to Pass “Right to Work” Legislation Distracts from Bad Budget

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Friday, 20 February 2015
in Wisconsin

scott-walkerMADISON - Today Republican leaders in the state legislature announced plans for an extraordinary session of the legislature next week to pass so-called "Right to Work"  legislation.

Is this rushed discussion of such a controversial subject necessary? Many in the Assembly and Senate, especially Democrats, do not appear to think so. The move is seen as a distraction by many in Madison, an attempt to talk about anything but Scott Walker’s proposed budget.

Walker’s Budget has stirred up a hornet’s nest all over Wisconsin. As we get into the budget’s details, we have learned it mean a tough road ahead for local schools, the UW and our children who will inherit increased state debt.

"Right to Work"  legislation will do little to solve any of these problems. It does not even have anything to do with the right to work. It is merely a political argument between Republicans and the unions over the collection of union dues.

Scott Walker’s first term has left Wisconsin with a lagging economy and a $2.2 billion deficit. His administration has drained needed funds from public education and state agencies and given it to the wealthy few in the form of a huge tax cut. And now, with Scott Walker a part time governor gone much of the week to campaign for President, the bill to pay for all of this has fallen on the legislature.

Is it any surprise the Republicans would rather talk about “Right to Work” ?

peter_barcaWhen asked for his response on the Extraordinary Session, Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said in a prepared statement:

"Governor Walker has called so-called `Right to Work' legislation a distraction and apparently that's exactly what he wants. By rushing to pass Right to Work in less than a week, clearly the governor and Republican legislators want to distract from how destructive their budget is for Wisconsin's workers, students and middle-class families.

"Wisconsin is already lagging behind most of the nation in jobs and wage growth and `Right to Work' would only make things worse. In fact, the average worker in Right to Work states makes between $5,000 and $6,000 less than the average worker in other states. And calling an extraordinary session will make the budget disaster Republicans have created worse since we're already scheduled to be in session the following week anyway. What's the emergency?

"There is broad agreement among workers, businesses and everyday citizens that Right to Work is wrong for Wisconsin. Yet the governor and Republican lawmakers have proven they will do anything to change the subject from their mismanagement of Wisconsin's economy, including driving down wages for our workers and further dividing our state."

dave-hansen-gbOur local Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) went on to say:

"How unpopular is the Governor's budget? Apparently so unpopular that Republican leaders feel the need to hide their members behind RTW to help them avoid having to answer to the voters about their $2.2 billion deficit, their plan to eliminate SeniorCare and assistance for the elderly and disabled, their continued cuts to our public schools and their attack on our UW campuses.

"This is bait and switch politics at its worst that will cost the average Wisconsin family $5,000 - $6,000 per year in lost wages and that will limit the freedom of employers to run their businesses as they see fit.

"Rather than owning up to their failed policies, they are desperately trying to change the subject rather than defend what is proving to be an indefensible budget that puts the Governor's presidential ambitions before the people of Wisconsin."

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Walker Wants $300 Million Cut Out of UW System

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 27 January 2015
in Wisconsin

uwgbGovernor Scott Walker proposes drastic cuts in state funding for The University of Wisconsin System in return for "more independence" to allow the university to raise tuition as much as it wants starting in 2017. Students and parents left holding the bag.


MADISON - The University of Wisconsin System will have its state funding slashed by $300 Million or about 13 percent over the next two years, under the budget Gov. Scott Walker will submit to the Legislature next week, the governor told The Associated Press on Monday.

Walker released details of his budget plan as it affects the UW System to the AP ahead of a public announcement on Tuesday.

UW had asked for an increase in funding of $95 million over the next two years — money that it argued was needed given that Walker was calling for another two-year tuition freeze. Walker is going forward with the tuition freeze, but is calling for the additional $300 million cut as well.

All the cuts and freezes would be balanced by "more independence" for the UW according to Walker. Walker is proposing turning the 13 four-year campuses and 13 two-year colleges that comprise the UW System into a public authority, a structure that would cut the university loose from a wide array of issues that are currently mandated by state law. More advantageous to the UW, the Legislature would have no ability to stop the university from raising tuition as much as it wants starting in 2017.

UW President Ray Cross said he supported the structural changes, but he would work to reduce the budget cut.

peter_barcaReaction to the Governor's proposals from Democratic legislators was swift.

Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) released a statement today rejecting Governor Walker's plan to slash the additional $300 million in state funding from the University of Wisconsin System. According to Barca, budgets "are about priorities and once again dramatically slashing higher education in the 21st Century global economy will drastically take Wisconsin in the wrong direction".

dave-hansenIn a statement also released today, Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) said:

“This is unfortunate news for students, their parents and anyone who cares about keeping higher education affordable for all Wisconsin families. Students who are going to be attending a UW campus and their parents should hold onto their wallets. Starting in 2017 under the Governor’s proposal, UW campuses will be allowed to raise tuition as much as they want. Many students will find themselves priced out of attending a UW campus or being forced to take on even more student loans to pay their tuition."

"The UW System is one of the best publicly owned systems in the nation. It is a driver of our economy and new business creation all across our state. Thanks to the Governor and Republicans handing out tax breaks to corporations and special interests like candy we have a $2.2 billion deficit and talk of cutting another $300 million from our UW campuses. Instead of talking about the Governor’s plan to abandon our universities we could and should be talking about how we can invest in them”, Hansen said.

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