December 22, 2014

Businesses join fight against Wisconsin right-to-work proposal

File photo

File photo

More than 300 private sector business interests are joining forces to fight an effort to make Wisconsin a right-to-work state. The Wisconsin Contractor Coalition includes a variety of private employers and skilled trade representatives. Spokesman Steve Lyons says members agree with Governor Walker that the state is facing more pressing issues and the debate would only be a distraction from those.

They also believe a right-to-work law amounts to government intrusion. Lyons says “this is a contract between a private sector trade association and the company they work with. For government to interfere in that we think is bad public policy.”

Right-to-work laws typically prohibit requiring union membership as a condition of employment. Lyons says studies from groups both for and against those laws have found they lowered wages and benefits in states that adopted the policy. He warns that many employers are already saying they can’t find enough skilled workers to fill nearly 70,000 vacant positions in the state, and the possibility of reduced wages and benefits could make that even harder.

Lyons also notes that many smaller businesses appreciate the services unions offer in terms of getting workers ready for jobs. He says they enjoy the benefit of private dollars helping to make sure workers show up already trained and ready for the job.

Republican lawmakers have indicated they plan to advance right-to-work legislation in the spring. Lyons says the coalition’s focus right now is on informing the public and lawmakers about why that’s the wrong move for the state. He expects more businesses to join the group in the coming weeks.

Obama’s Cuba decision brings mixed reaction in Wisconsin

White House

White House

We’re hearing mixed reactions from a couple of Wisconsin Congressmen regarding President Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba Wednesday.

Seventh District Republican Sean Duffy is opposed to the move. Third District Democrat Ron Kind supports the change.

Duffy is glad to see American Alan Gross returned, but points out he should never have been imprisoned in the first place. The Foreign Affairs Committee member says, “The President has once again extended his hand to a leader who raises a fist in return.” adding, He has offered a commitment to a significant shift in U.S. Policy without any guarantees that Cuba will follow suit.” Duffy points out that last week, 240 dissidents were arrested in Cuba during human right protests, showing the Castro regime has no genuine interest in changing it’s ways anytime soon.

Kind supports, “Normalizing relations with Cuba that will ease restrictions between our countries and put an end to 50 years of failed policy.” He says, “It doesn’t make sense to have economic relations with a Communist nation like China, yet stay closed off to a nation just 90 miles off our coast.” Kind wants Congress to end the embargo altogether and fully open up this new market to U.S exports, which would be good for Wisconsin farmers and for job creation.

Walker urges Senate Republicans to drop right-to-work push

Gov. Scott Walker addresses Senate Republicans (Photo: WRN)

Gov. Scott Walker addresses Senate Republicans (Photo: WRN)

Governor Scott Walker is publicly urging state Senate Republicans to back-off from efforts to pass a right-to-work law.

Speaking to the GOP members on Wednesday, Walker restated previous comments that the measure would only be a distraction from more important issues. “We’ve got a lot of big reforms to act on…we’ve got a lot of issues with entitlement reform and tax reform and other reforms we’ve talked about…a lot of things to do in both the Legislative session and the budget…and I just have the concern that sorts of issues, particularly early on, might distract from that work,” Walker said.

The governor, who has supported right-to-work legislation in the past, did not say if he would veto or sign a bill if lawmakers do pass one.

Republican leaders in the Legislature have indicated they plan to take up right-to-work early next year. Those laws typically ban requiring union membership as a condition of employment. The governor said he would rather focus on improving the state’s workforce by helping employers reach workers with the skill-sets needed to fill in-demand jobs.

Former players heaping praise on UW’s Chryst (AUDIO)

Paul Chryst takes over in Madison

Paul Chryst takes over in Madison

Paul Chryst is returning home.  The University of Wisconsin and Athletic Director Barry Alvarez is hoping he won’t have to hire another head coach during his time in Madison.

Alvarez targeted the former Badger assistant coach as his number-one choice to replace Gary Andersen, who left to take the head coaching job at Oregon State.  When he contacted Chryst about the vacancy in Madison, it became pretty clear that Chryst would be returning to Madison.

Those that played for Chryst previously, know the Badgers are getting an excellent coach.

Quarterback Scott Tolzien, who is currently a backup in Green Bay with the Packers, said he doesn’t think he’d be in the NFL if not for Chryst’s work.  The two spent five seasons in Madison together with Tolzien starting his final two seasons in Madison. [Read more…]

Paul Chryst named new Wisconsin football coach

Paul Chryst

Paul Chryst

Madison native Paul Chryst returned to the city where he grew up, played his college football and eventually served as an assistant coach, before being hired by the University of Wisconsin to take over the head coaching job today.

Before spending the last three seasons as head coach at Pittsburgh, where he led the Panthers to three consecutive bowl appearances, Chryst oversaw the most explosive offenses in Wisconsin history.  During his last two seasons as UW’s offensive coordinator (2010 and 2011), the Badgers set a multitude of school and Big Ten records.

With current Green Bay Packers quarterback Scott Tolzien at the helm in 2010, UW averaged more than 40.0 points a game for the first time in school history, ranking fifth in the country with 41.5 points a game.  On their way to their first Big Ten title since 1999, the Badgers scored at least 70 points three times.  As a team, Wisconsin set a Big Ten record with a .732 completion percentage while also tying the conference record for rushing touchdowns (48).

Chryst was also the offensive coordinator during Russell Wilson’s only season in Madison.  Wilson set the FBS record for pass efficiency (191.8) while setting school records for passing yards (3,175) and passing touchdowns (33 – second-most in Big Ten history).

Junior running back Montee Ball also tied Barry Sanders’ single-season record with 39 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,923 yards.

During his three seasons in Pittsburgh, the Panthers improved from 83rd in the country in scoring offense (24.3 ppg) the year before he arrived to 47th (31.7 ppg.) this season.  He helped stabilize a program that had five different acting head coaches in a span of 12 months.  Chryst led the Panthers to a 19-19 overall record and three straight bowl appearances.

(We’ll have audio from Paul Chryst, Barry Alvarez and a pair of former players shortly).