WI union leaders say Trump administration has betrayed working Wisconsinites

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Ahead of the Vice President’s visit on Monday representatives from the American Federation of Teachers, Wisconsin Farmers Union, and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees shared their frustrations about the Trump administration during a video press call.

They say the President has betrayed working Wisconsinites and that promises have not been kept.

AFSCME Council 32 representative Valerie Landowski said the administration’s response to COVID-19 has failed Wisconsin.

“It’s wreaked havoc on Wisconsin families. We aren’t getting the PPE we need in our facilities. We’ve seen thousands of layoffs and furloughed employees. This has created an economic downturn that will destroy the economy of Wisconsin and nationally for years to come,” Landowski said.

Landowski added that she strongly disagrees with the message the Vice President is sending to Wisconsin residents.

“Vice President Mike Pence came here to pretend that things are going great, that we’re right around the corner from solving COVID, but if you talk to any of our essential frontline employees they would tell you a very, very different story. The truth is, that Wisconsinites are suffering greatly under Trump and his administration,” she explained.

Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darin Von Ruden also shared his thoughts, saying the dairy industry is failing because of moves made by the administration, including outsourcing products because it’s cheaper.

“Farmers need to produce at a lower cost, which we can’t do because the price of our essential needs, equipment, materials to run our businesses have also increased in price because of the aluminum and steel tariffs,” Von Ruden said.

Even more, he questioned the respect Trump has for Wisconsin Farmers.

“You know, he calls our war heroes, our war veterans ‘losers’ and ‘suckers.’ Are the Wisconsin dairy farmers, 200,255 of us, that have gone out of business, that he’s called patriots for the last four years, are we ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’ too?” he said, referring to a recent article released by The Atlantic, which claims Trump referred to American Marines who died in World War I as “losers” and “suckers.” Trump has since denied these claims.

AFT Wisconsin President Kim Kohlhaas touched on Wisconsin lawmakers’ response to getting the economy back on track, saying they aren’t doing enough.

“The fact that there has not been a session to deal with COVID, to deal with the economy, and to deal with unemployment is completely unacceptable. Governor Evers has called for it, he has asked to have these conversations, and they have been rejected. I don’t think there are a lot of solutions unless we’re willing to sit down and start talking about it,” Kohlhaas said.

Von Ruden pointed to the “lack of action” by the Republicans in control of the House and Senate.

And Landowski added that lives are at risk because of the “inaction” by state and federal governments.

“We don’t have the ability to take the day off, or the week off, or the month off, that the Republican-led legislature has,” she said.

They are calling on lawmakers to meet immediately to pass things like hazard pay and other benefits for frontline staff and essential public workers.

“It’s time to restore a full voice to all workers in the state of Wisconsin, on behalf of the safety of our communities, it’s absolutely essential, especially during a pandemic,” Landowski concluded.