The fight for good jobs continues in the wake of high-speed rail and Talgo fiasco
Monday labor and community groups gathered at City Hall to draw attention to the 15,000 family sustaining jobs that a federally funded high-speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison would have created.
The rally drew many supporters angered by the recent Department of Transportation announcement that $810 million dollars designated for Wisconsin high-speed rail will be reallocated to projects in other states.
Milwaukee workers suffered an additional blow last week when Spanish train manufacturer Talgo announced it would leave the city at the end of their lease in 2012.
“Thanks to Scott Walker, economic progress is passing Wisconsin by,” said Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt. “We’ve lost the train and we’re going to lose Talgo, but we have found our voice when it comes to high quality jobs. The labor movement will continue to speak out to demand that our new Governor put working families and job creation first.”
Governor-elect Scott Walker has said that ending construction on the project was deficit savvy, but the estimated annual cost of running the line was only $4.7 million, and most of that bill would have likely been picked up by the state’s federal transportation budget.
Monday’s rally was intended to send a clear message to the incoming administration: the most pressing deficit that our state faces is the deficit of family sustaining jobs.
Also present as Monday’s rally was State Representative Barbara Toles who echoed the sentiments of many gathered.
Toles has been critical of the decision to redirect the $810 million allocated for Wisconsin’s high-speed rail project to other states.
Said Toles: “The loss of thousands of jobs statewide, and hundreds of family-supporting jobs in my district, hobbles Wisconsin and Milwaukee’s economic recovery at a time when we were beginning to see signs of growth.
“Walker’s decision is devastating to, and kills the hopes of those who were looking forward to applying for, and working on the jobs the rail project would create.”
Toles said the Spanish train-maker Talgo, Inc. made a major investment in the city of Milwaukee and her district when it located its manufacturing facility at the former site of A.O. Smith and Tower Automotive, located near 27th and Hopkins streets.
“If Talgo leaves, taking its well-paying jobs with them, it could be years before another employer takes a chance on investing in Milwaukee’s central city, which has an extremely high level of unemployment, particularly among black males,” she said.
Like Toles other lawmakers are getting involved with the fight to create jobs for their constituents in the wake of the Talgo, high-speed rail loss.
State Senator Spencer Coggs and the Rev. Willie Brisco, president of the Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope, will hold a community meeting on Thursday, December 16 at New Hope Baptist Church, 2433 W. Roosevelt Dr. The meeting will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m.