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Jobs Hearing Lets Community Voice Concerns, Worries

A jobs hearing was held Monday in Reeve Memorial Union allowing community members to discuss with elected officials the grievances they have regarding job creation in Wisconsin. The event, which was co-sponsored by the Wisconsin State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Individual Organizations, and Wisconsin Jobs Now!, helped community members speak out about their concerns. "A jobs hearing is a chance for constituents to speak directly with their lawmakers on one of the most important issues facing local communities across Wisconsin—the need for family-supporting jobs," Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Stephanie Bloomingdale said. The Wisconsin Jobs Now! online states...

Jobs hearing lets community voice concerns, worries

By Jessica Kuderer

kuderj22@uwosh.edu

Published: Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Updated: Thursday, October 27, 2011 00:10

Original Post

A jobs hearing was held Monday in Reeve Memorial Union allowing community members to discuss with elected officials the grievances they have regarding job creation in Wisconsin.

The event, which was co-sponsored by the Wisconsin State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Individual Organizations, and Wisconsin Jobs Now!, helped community members speak out about their concerns.

"A jobs hearing is a chance for constituents to speak directly with their lawmakers on one of the most important issues facing local communities across Wisconsin—the need for family-supporting jobs," Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Stephanie Bloomingdale said.

The Wisconsin Jobs Now! online states while campaigning, Gov. Scott Walker promised Wisconsin citizens he would create 250,000 new jobs, but this has yet to happen.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Those losses [of an estimated 900 lost jobs in the private-sector employers and 3,000 lost jobs in the manufacturing sector,] pale in comparison to the estimated loss of 11,500 jobs at city, county and state agencies as well as public schools—which is the deepest single-month decline since at least 1990, which was the first year the government began to collect comparable statistics."

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO stated in its jobs agenda, "The state needs 183,100 new jobs to regain its pre-recession employment level, which includes the jobs needed to match population growth since the recession began."

The first jobs hearing was held in Washington Park Senior Center in Milwaukee on Oct. 17. 

"Other jobs hearings are being held in Milwaukee, La Crosse and Racine. On Nov. 9, there will be a jobs hearing in Wausau," Bloomingdale said.

The jobs hearing are open to both students and non-students. It is meant for all members of the community to lead the direction of the conversation with the questions they ask officials.

"At last week's jobs hearing in Milwaukee there were a variety of issues discussed—the high unemployment rate, the need for us to make things in Wisconsin, the need for a higher minimum wage, the need to tax the wealthiest Wisconsinites and the lack of good jobs available for veterans who return home from war," Bloomingdale said.

The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO and Wisconsin Jobs Now! decided to hold the Oshkosh jobs hearing at UW Oshkosh because it "provides a central location for community members and students to come together to discuss important issues affecting the Oshkosh area," Bloomingdale said.

During the hearing, community members had one minute to voice their apprehensions and ask questions to the panel which consisted of State Sen. Jessica King (D-Oshkosh), and State Reps. Richard Spanbauer (R-Algoma), Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) and Penny Bernard Schaber (D-Appleton). The panel listened to three community members' questions and concerns, and each panel member had one minute to respond. Total, the panel responded to about 12 people's questions and worries.

Membership Director of the UW Oshkosh College Democrats Mike Pawlak, a junior political science major, attended the jobs hearing in order to get answers from representatives as to what they are going to do to make the current situation better.

"Current state policy is ineffective right now," Pawlak said. "What we need to do is take a more progressive stance to build infrastructure, focus on communities and get Wisconsin back to work."

Pawlak said he feels students should attend a jobs hearing because after graduation every student will need to find a job.

"Seventy percent of the UWO population has to take out financial aid," Pawlak said. "When we graduate, we are going to have to start paying back these loans. [We need to] find a job with a living wage in order to avoid these problems in the future."

According to Wisconsin State AFL-CIO's jobs agenda, many young people are unable to pursue the careers that they are educated and trained in.

In response to Pawlak and other community members' questions, the panel agreed there were issues between both Republicans and Democrats coming to a compromise or agreement on issues.

"The biggest dilemma, in my opinion, that we have today, is trying to get both sides together, which is a very difficult thing," Spanbauer said. "It never used to be that way. It's one party against another party."

Hintz also agreed there are issues between Democrats and Republicans. Hintz urged Spanbauer to give Democrats a hearing when they want to debate a piece of legislature they feel should be revised or not put into effect.

According to Hintz, the majority of Republicans do not give hearings to Democrats. Hintz said in the past he has given a hearing to every Republican who asked, but now cannot get a hearing himself.

"I've never been treated so poorly," Hintz said.

Faculty member Roy Hoglund told representatives that he believes, "If things were a lot worse, you might get a lot more action going on."

After the public voiced concerns and questions, panel members were given one minute for closing statements.

"I truly believe that in order to improve where our state is going, we must start working together," Schaber said. "We must set goals and we must figure out ways to do that in a collaborative fashion because that is the only thing that will work."

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