Compiled by MCJ Staff
Milwaukee County Supervisor Johnny L. Thomas called Gov. Scott Walker’s recent suspension of the state’s apprenticeship programs in government contracts a “big mistake” that sends a message to the nation that Wisconsin is “closed” for small businesses.
“Gov. Walker is missing the benefit of apprenticeship programs,” Thomas said in a statement Tuesday. “These programs are a key step in revitalizing our economy, providing individuals with valuable work experience and helping them develop marketable skills.”
In March, amidst the rancorous protests at the state capitol against the governor’s efforts to dismantle collective bargaining for the states union workers, Walker quietly signed Executive Order No. 18, which suspended an executive order signed by former Gov. Jim Doyle several years ago requiring minority and women apprentices on state construction projects.
Under Doyles order (Executive Order 108), employers awarded state construction contracts were required to participate in Wisconsin’s apprenticeship program.
Many minority workforce advocates saw the apprenticeship program as the only viable avenue to employment in the construction trades for minorities and women.
As an example, Thomas noted the Marquette Interchange project, where Doyle achieved 22 percent minority labor and 18 percent Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) participation.
“Gov. Walker is reversing this progress and stifling economic growth and job creation,” Thomas said. “Instead of being open for business, Wisconsin is closed to small businesses, which are an economic driver for a growing economy.”
Thomas said the apprenticeship programs play a key role in revitalizing the state’s economy, providing individuals with valuable work experience and helping them develop marketable skills.
“Walker’s order targets small businesses that provide job training and opportunities. This is counterproductive to job creation and economic growth.”
The supervisor pointed to the Business Journal’s and Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Central City Awards recognizing entrepreneurs who have positively impacted the central city.
“So why would Gov. Walker want to make it harder for small businesses to develop and grow? This bad policy will compound the unemployment situation in the state and the African American community.”