Midwest Memo: UAW Reaches Chrysler Deal, Wisconsin Democrats Begin Effort to Recall Gov. Scott Walker

Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Chrysler and UAW reach deal. Eight days after reaching a tentative agreement with Ford, the United Auto Workers announced today it had reached a tentative agreement with Chrysler. As part of the deal, Chrysler has agreed to add 2,100 jobs by 2015 and invest $4.5 billion in its U.S. plants. “This tentative agreement builds on the momentum of job creation and our efforts to rebuild America,” UAW president Bob King said in a written statement. Chrysler’s 26,000 UAW members will vote on the deal in the coming days and weeks.

2. Democrats commence Walker recall effort. Next month, Democrats in Wisconsin will begin efforts to recall first-year Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Mike Tate, chairman of the state Democratic Party, announced the decision to pursue a recall Monday night during an MSNBC interview. Organizers must gather 540,208 valid signatures, one quarter of the votes cast in last fall’s election, within 60 days of commencing their efforts on Nov. 15, according to The New York Times. If those efforts are successful, Walker would be required to run for his office again.

3. Columbus-area tax incentives brought jobs. Six Franklin County, Ohio, companies received property-tax breaks in exchange for a promise to create 298 full-time jobs over the past seven years. They delivered more than county executives anticipated. Those companies created 665 jobs and added $32.8 million in new payroll, according to a report released Tuesday night by the county’s Tax Incentive Review Council. Leading the way, according to The Columbus Dispatch, was TS Tech North America, a seat supplier for Honda that created 310 more jobs than promised in 2004. TS Tech had received a 10-year, 50-percent tax break on taxes worth $829,000. “This is proof our staff knows what they’re doing,” county commissioner John O’Grady told the newspaper.

Democrats Hang On To Wisconsin Senate Seats, Ending Recall Drama

The turmoil that enveloped Wisconsin politics since spring is over, at least for now.

Protests roiled the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison this winter.

Two Democratic state senators hung on to their seats in yesterday’s recall elections, leaving Republicans in control of state government. The senators, Jim Holperin of Conover, and Bob Wirch of Pleasant Prairie, defeated Republican challengers.

The votes were last involving six state senate seats over the past two weeks. The recall elections came in the wake of Wisconsin’s controversial new law, pushed by its Republican Gov., Scott Walker, that strictly limits collective bargaining rights for state employees. Continue reading “Democrats Hang On To Wisconsin Senate Seats, Ending Recall Drama”

Final Wisconsin Recall Elections Are Underway

It’s been a tumultuous and expensive year for Wisconsin politics, and it comes to a conclusion today, at least at the polls. Two Democratic state senators face recall elections today, in the wake of the state’s new law that sharply limits public employee collective bargaining rights.

Associated Press photo

Republicans are assured of keeping control of state government, where they hold the governor’s seat and majorities in both the state senate and the assembly. But they could widen their one-seat state senate lead by upsets. Read more from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Continue reading “Final Wisconsin Recall Elections Are Underway”

Wisconsin Union Law Struck Down

The law that caused thousands of protestors to descend on Madison, WI, has been shot down. But the legal battle won’t end.

Associated Press photo

Dane County circuit court Judge Maryann Sumi said today she is freezing the law, called Act 10, because Republicans legislators on a committee did not follow the state’s open meetings law.

The law, championed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, significantly limits collective bargaining rights for state employees, except for police and firefighters.

There was no court hearing before Judge Sumi issued her 33-page opinion. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sumi wrote, “The Legislature and its committees are bound to comply with the open meetings law by their own choice. Continue reading “Wisconsin Union Law Struck Down”

Midwest Memo: Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It’s official: Chrysler repaid $7.6 billion in loans this afternoon to the United States and Canadian governments.

The automaker plans to mark the occasion in a ceremony at an assembly plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan where the Chrysler 200 is built. Our partner station Michigan Radio reports the payments are expected to save $300 million per year in interest.

In terms of the company’s history, USA Today says it’s the biggest moment since the completion of a similar turnaround under Lee Iaccocca, but there’s not as much acclaim this time around.

Continue reading “Midwest Memo: Tuesday, May 24, 2011”

WI Public Employee Issue Expands Nationwide

Updated Wednesday afternoon

Spurred by Wisconsin, protests for — and against — public employee unions are expanding nationwide, and are even having an international impact.

On Saturday, the activist group MoveOn.Org is pushing to hold rallies in every state capital. The group, which says it has 5 million supporters, announced the plan in an email to its members Tuesday. Continue reading “WI Public Employee Issue Expands Nationwide”

Region is Epicenter for Fight Over Union Power

The Midwest is the birthplace of the modern industrial union. The United Auto Workers formed in Detroit. AFSCME, the union representing many government workers, got its start in Madison, Wisconsin. Now, Madison and other Midwest cities have become the center of the fight over public employee unions. Big protests are planned Tuesday in state capitals.

Lisa Schmelz, teacher (Photo: Chip Mitchell)

Continue reading “Region is Epicenter for Fight Over Union Power”

New Midwest Governors, Old Headaches

New faces are occupying the executive offices in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio. Beside their party affiliation, Republicans Rick Snyder, Scott Walker and John Kasich share big problems. All are struggling to deal with big budget deficits, high unemployment and keep businesses in their states.

That’s where the similarities end. Each governor has outlined different approaches for dealing with their dilemmas. In a special report for Changing Gears, Rick Pluta of the Michigan Public Radio Network and Karen Kasler of Ohio Public Radio’s Statehouse Bureau took a look for Changing Gears at how new governors. Walker, Snyder and Kasich are spending their first days on the job.
Continue reading “New Midwest Governors, Old Headaches”