Gov. Scott Walker and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), our state’s largest pro-corporate lobbying group, simultaneously announced today that the CEOs and the board members of WMC gave high marks to Gov. Walker for his anti-worker, anti-middle class agenda. Surprise, surprise.
It’s no small secret that WMC was instrumental in getting Gov. Walker elected. The big business interest lobby had already spent nearly a million dollars supporting Walker a month before the actual election, in addition to the $200,000 its partner, anti-consumer protection group American Justice Partnership, spent in mid-2010. Meanwhile, the WMC affiliate in Milwaukee funneled $266,000 to the Republican Governor’s Association, which spent $3 million in in political advertising supporting Walker’s campaign. Additionally, from data collected by One Wisconsin Now from the Government Accountability Board and the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, WMC board members have personally contributed over $160,000 to Walker’s gubernatorial campaigns.
So just who exactly is on the board of directors and key staff of WMC?
Well, we know who isn’t. After spending millions of dollars to get Walker elected, several of WMC’s board and staff have left the pro-corporate group to find new jobs in the anti-worker Walker Administration:
- John Metcalf started working for WMC in 1988. He lobbied for WMC on issues of employee relations, with an emphasis on unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation matters. In 2011, he was appointed Administrator of the Division of Worker’s Compensation.
- RJ Pirlot represented WMC on a number of issues, including energy and telecommunications. Not surprisingly, Pirlot got the job as executive assistant for the Public Service Commission in the Walker Administration.
- Daniel Ariens, a WMC board member since 2006 and Walker campaign donor, was appointed by Gov. Walker in 2011 to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
- Paul Jadin was a board member of WMC since 2008 and president of the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce for seven years before being appointed by Gov. Walker to the Secretary of Commerce cabinet position.
This list might be more comprehensive in reality; we can’t be sure anymore. Sometime after Gov. Walker launched his attack on workers in February 2011, WMC made the unprecedented move to remove the list of its board of directors and key staff from public view. Our list of board members and key staff is current up until early 2011.
But if there’s one thing we do know for sure, it’s that WMC’s pro-corporate agenda has found a friend in the anti-worker Walker Administration.
It wasn’t long after Walker took office that WMC loudly and proudly declared “victory” on its war on the middle class. One list WMC didn’t remove from public view is this pro-corporate agenda it touted as “victories” (these are taken verbatim from WMC’s website):
- At WMC’s urging, Legislature passes no-tax-hike state budget, a property tax freeze, and an $80 million corporate tax cut.
- WMC helps overturn $94 million punitive damage claim at Wisconsin appeals court. Establishes precedent.
- Killed a bill to increase the minimum wage beyond federal law, and index hikes in future years.
- Killed a proposed state-employee early retirement plan that would have cost taxpayers more than $400 million and allowed some public employees to retire by age 48.
- Killed mandatory school-activity leave for employers with 50 or more employees. Employees would have been eligible for up to 16 hours of school activity leave.
- Defeated a bill to allow compensatory and unlimited punitive damage claims against employers in some workplace discrimination cases.
- Defeated a bill that mandated insurers provide mental health and drug abuse treatment coverage on the same basis as other health insurance coverage.
- Defeated a proposed constitutional amendment to the Uniformity Clause that would have shifted the property tax burden to commercial and industrial taxpayers.
But as WMC and Gov. Walker called for a “shared sacrifice”, the CEOs and corporations represented on WMCs board of directors – the same one’s today giving Walker high marks – were taking HUGE pay increases. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the average pay for corporate CEOs pay went up 27% last year. Among the CEOs and companies were WMC board members (as of mid-2010):
- Nicholas Pinchuk’s compensation went up 45% to over $6.2 million.
- Todd Teske’s compensation increased 161% to over $3.4 million.
- Richard Meeusen’s compensation increased 22% to over $1.3 million.
- Glenn Tellock’s compensation increased 141% to over $4.9 million, as his company’s earnings were -$73 million last year.
- J. Joel Quadracci’s compensation increased 99% to over $5.5 million, while his company’s were -$250 million last year.
- M&I Bank CEO Mark Furlong’s compensation increased 205% to over $5 million, although his company’s earnings were -$616 million last year.
- WMC chair Thomas Howatt took a 4% decrease last year. Now he only makes $4.5 million. Poor fella.
WMC and the Republican majority consistently defend giving huge tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy by claiming big business will create jobs. In reality, CEOs are better about creating huge paychecks for themselves and aren’t creating jobs, or profits.