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Labor Logic

Prosser

John D. Finerty, Jr.

The general election for Milwaukee Mayor is next Tuesday. In advance of the election, I asked the campaigns to provide each candidate’s position on employment and employment law related issues. Here are the questions I asked and the responses:

1. The State of Wisconsin is considering raising the state’s minimum wage; periodic attempts have been made in the past to raise the minimum wage paid within the city of Milwaukee on public works projects. What is your position on raising the local minimum wage?

Pratt:

The Milwaukee Code of Ordinances, (Section 310-13), establishes a living wage requirement for persons employed in the performance of service contracts for the City of Milwaukee. By ordinance, the Milwaukee City Clerk is required to annually adjust the minimum hourly wage after reviewing the most current U.S. Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines for a family of three. Effective March 1, 2004 the living wage was increased to $7.53 per hour. That rate will be included in all service contracts and bid specifications issued after the effective date.

I support Governor Doyle’s plan to increase the state’s minimum wage to $6.50 an hour over the next two years.

Barrett:

The Barrett campaign did not provide a response. According to the Barrett campaign Web site, however, Tom Barrett “has been steadfast in his support of higher minimum wages . . . .”

2. A recent survey conducted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed the economy and job creation are two issues on the minds of voters. In your view, which sectors of the economy, and in particular which industries, will serve as the basis to create the most jobs in the future within the city of Milwaukee?

Pratt:

Economic growth and job creation are critical issues for Milwaukee. As president of the Common Council, and as mayor, I have worked on initiatives to foster entrepreneurship. I have worked aggressively to help create and retain jobs for people in our city and will continue to do so. I believe that there is the promise of growth and development in several industries that will serve to boost economic development and create jobs for the citizens of Milwaukee.

I recently sponsored a resolution committing the Depart-ment of City Development to work closely with the Initiative for a Competitive Milwaukee (ICM). The objective of this partnership is to work toward economic and workforce development in Milwaukee. This partnership will promote opportunities for development in four existing industry clusters: health services (currently the largest inner city industry in terms of employment), construction and development, business process service centers and manufacturing.

In looking toward the future, I see promise for our city’s economy in the growing field of technology development. Recently, G.E. Medical Systems announced that it will move its headquarters to Milwaukee County. This move will create a critical mass of medical research, technology development, medical education and healthcare enterprise to the area. Additionally, it was recently announced that the Milwaukee Medical College Research Foundation plans to expand its technology transfer division. I believe that these two developments are harbingers of what the future holds if we plan for its eventuality. Therefore, I will be appointing a technology transfer working group to explore ways in which we can capitalize on the rapid growth of technology fields, particularly medical technology.

I think it is important to point out, however, that we must concentrate both on job creation and workforce development. I will continue to work to connect those who need jobs to availabilities and to ensure that we have a workforce trained to fill the jobs we create.

Barrett:

The Barrett campaign did not provide a response. According to the Barrett campaign Web site, however, Tom Barrett takes the following position:
In 2003, the Helen Bader Foundation and Greater Milwaukee Committee generated a great deal of excitement by announcing the Initiative for a Competitive Milwaukee (ICM). The ICM is truly a community call to action and as mayor, I pledge to be a full and active partner. The ICM identified four industry sectors as having the greatest potential for growth: Health Services, Construction and Development, Business Processing Centers and Manufacturing. Milwaukee has great potential as a patent-to-product center for new technologies in a variety of areas — medical equipment, engineering and manufacturing equipment. The ICM’s goals for business recruitment and retention can only be met if we, as a community, make a serious investment in the necessary infrastructure.

We must retool and move Milwaukee forward. First Choice Milwaukee! will elevate the ICM’s goals, renew our commitment and put Milwaukee back to work. If we don’t toot our own horn, no one else will.

First Choice Milwaukee! will drive business recruitment and retention efforts in the Barrett Administration.

  • First Choice Milwaukee! will be comprised of business and civic leaders including representatives from universities and colleges and local elected officials.

  • Fist Choice Milwaukee! will initiate a competitive roundtable for Milwaukee and the region to determine where we are competitive with other markets our size and where we fall short.

  • First Choice Milwaukee! will develop and implement a 3-year strategic action plan for the recruitment and retention of businesses and benchmarks to measure success.

  • First Choice Milwaukee! will be suppor
    ted with public and private funds including foundation and state/federal grants.

  • First Choice Milwaukee! will not be governed by City Hall. An independent board will oversee operations.

3. What is your view on the proper role, if any, of affirmative action programs within city government?

Pratt:

It is totally appropriate for city government to work to ensure that diversity is reflected at all levels of employment. A policy of prohibited discriminatory practices is not enough. We must work aggressively to ensure that all personnel actions regarding recruitment, selection, hiring and promotion reflect a total commitment to equal opportunity.

Barrett:

The Barrett campaign did not provide a response.

4. What is the most important labor or employment related issue, if any, confronting the city of Milwaukee?

Pratt:

The single most important labor issue facing the City of Milwaukee today is the need to control health care costs in cooperation with organized labor. Our managed competition system has been a good system but needs to be improved.

One of the more viable changes is the Patient Choice Health Care option. It provides the right incentives to the providers and the employee and rewards the providers with the highest quality and lowest cost, the providers with the best value. The Patient Choice Plan puts the highest value providers in the lowest cost tier, the lowest value providers in the highest cost tier. Employees pay more for the higher cost tier, and are rewarded with lower cost and higher quality if they select the lower cost tier. This does not simply shift costs to employees as other consumer directed plans tend to do.

As mayor, I am interested in working with the leadership and labor leaders of the five taxing bodies in Milwaukee County (the City, the County, MATC, MPS and MMSD) to identify a way to consolidate the separate health care plans and staff into a single Milwaukee area public employee health care consortium that serves all the employees of the five taxing bodies in a coordinated fashion.

Barrett:

The Barrett campaign did not provide a response.

For additional information on each candidate’s position on various issues, consult www.MarvinPratt.com and www.BarrettForMayor.com. For additional information on this article, contact John D. Finerty, Jr. at (414) 225-8269 or on the Internet at JDFinerty@mbf-law.com.

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