Citizen action group requests records

Now Media Group


Citizen Action of Wisconsin filed an open records request for Walker Administration records on the outsourcing of Wisconsin jobs to other states or overseas by companies receiving state economic development support.

Starting in 2014 economic assistance by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to companies engaged in outsourcing became controversial, and remained so during the legislative session.

In late 2014 WEDC's board adopted a policy of requiring reports within 30 days by corporations receiving state job creation dollars of any net job reductions or the outsourcing of jobs out of Wisconsin.

These reports have not been publicly released. Nor has Citizen Action been able to obtain them by contacting WEDC staff. It is also Citizen Action of Wisconsin's understanding that such reports are not being shared with WEDC's board of directors.

Board minutes show that WEDC adopted the following policy in September of 2014: 'For programs in which jobs are an expected outcome, we will include language in our contract to ensure that WEDC receives up to date information on any potential job losses. Specifically under the reporting section, the following will be added: 'The Recipient will notify WEDC within 30 days if any net Full-Time Positions in Wisconsin are reduced or if any Full-Time Positions are relocated out of Wisconsin.' (Source: Board Minutes, 9-25-16)

Citizen Action of Wisconsin considers it of the utmost public importance to have real time information on the extent to which corporations being paid to create jobs are also engaged in outsourcing existing Wisconsin jobs.

As Citizen Action of Wisconsin reported during the presidential primary, federal and state tax breaks, trade policies, and economic development policies which give public aid to companies engaged in outsourcing are coming under fire. Four of the five presidential candidates campaigned on the issue during the Wisconsin primary.

It is no surprise that outsourcing is a red-hot issue in a manufacturing state like Wisconsin, which according to state and federal data has lost a net of 111,000 manufacturing jobs since the passage of NAFTA. Voters of all political persuasions believe that the availability of good jobs has been devested by the rigging of the economy through global trade agreements, and state economic development policies that benefit multinational corporations at the expense of workers.

There have been a series of outsourcing scandals involving Governor Walker's privatized jobs agency, WEDC, prompting legislation in both houses of the Legislature.

In the State Senate and State Assembly Democrats introduced bills to limit economic development support to companies engaged in outsourcing which were defeated in party line votes.

The issue is also front and center in discussions of the merger of the health insurance giants Humana and Aetna, which threatens the outsourcing of over 3,000 jobs in the Green Bay area.

'Wisconsinites have a right to know whether their money is going to corporations engaged in outsourcing their jobs,' said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. 'WEDC's lack of transparency about outsourcing contributes to the growing public belief that the Wisconsin economy is being rigged against workers by politically connected CEOs and the politicians they support. One way to begin to clear the air, and to provide the information we need to make sound public policy, is to release the outsourcing data being collected by Governor Walker's jobs agency.'