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Wisconsin has been stung by recent job losses

President Barack Obama speaks today, Labor Day, in a state where many companies have asked for pay cuts from their labor forces. Some have also sought government aid.
/ Source: news services

President Barack Obama speaks today, Labor Day, in a state where many companies have asked for pay cuts from their labor forces.

Some have also sought government aid.

Wisconsin has 155,200 fewer jobs now than it did at the start of the recession in December 2007, and of those who are working, more than one of every five employees statewide earns poverty-level wages, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center on Wisconsin Strategy, said the Wisconsin State Journal newspaper, based in Madison.

Here are just a few examples.

The Associated Press reported Friday that Harley-Davidson Motor Co. and its union leaders reached a proposed labor agreement that could keep manufacturing operations and hundreds of jobs in Wisconsin.

The proposal still needs to be ratified by union workers and approved by the motorcycle company's board. Workers are expected to vote on the contract Sept. 13.

Harley had previously said labor costs at its operations in Milwaukee and Tomahawk were too high. The company threatened to move production to Kansas City or another U.S. city if Wisconsin workers wouldn't agree to certain labor concessions. The Wisconsin facilities have 1,340 active employees, there could still be job reductions, even if the contract is approved.

Harley is an iconic Milwaukee institution since it was founded 107 years ago, and its museum is among the city's most popular tourist destinations.

Sub Zero/Wolf
Three weeks ago, 200 union members narrowly turned down a company proposal for a 20 percent cut in pay and benefits and a five-year pay freeze, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Friday. Sub-Zero/Wolf had threatened to move Wolf appliance production to Kentucky if the concessions were not approved.

Company talks with union are scheduled to resume.

The paper reported under the company’s initial proposal, wages would range from $17.33 an hour to $26 an hour and the company would pay 92 percent of health insurance premiums for eight years.

Regardless of the outcome, 100 Sub-Zero jobs will be moved to Arizona by spring 2012, the paper reported.

Mercury Marine
Mercury Marine last year asked 850 Fond du Lac union members, earning about $40,000 a year each, for wage concessions of about one-third. It said if the pay cut didn't pass, it would shift not only the manufacturing jobs but possibly the whole Wisconsin headquarters operation, too, to its Stillwater, Okla., plant. After three votes the union agreed to concessions.

Local media reported at the time that Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle said his state came up with a $70 million incentive package including a combination of tax credits, grants and forgivable loans. The city of Fond du Lac offered up $3 million. Fond du Lac County offered up a low-interest, forgivable $50 million loan to pay for research into an environmentally friendly outboard motor and other company expenses. The loan is funded by a half-percent sales tax, the county's first.

Last month, WTMJ reported Mercury Marine announced 200 Stillwater jobs would come to Fond du Lac in 2011 thanks to a $5 million state aid offer.

After the assembly work comes to Wisconsin, the firm will close the 700,000-square-foot Stillwater factory and put it up for sale.