Badger State voters are getting a re-do on their U.S. Senate race in November, and it could be a big win for working families nationwide.
|Russ Feingold is running for his old Senate seat. He is pictured here with Stevens Point, Wis., Local 388 at the IBEW Wisconsin state conference, which took place earlier this year.
The 2016 Senate race in Wisconsin is pitting incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson against Russell “Russ” Feingold, the lawmaker he beat six years ago. Prior to his defeat, Feingold had served as U.S. senator dating back to 1993. He has a 94 percent lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO, consistently supporting issues important to working families – not something that can be said of Johnson.
“The deplorable record of Ron Johnson signals the necessity of putting Russ back in the Senate,” said Sixth District International Representative Terry Roovers, who is also the state political coordinator.
Feingold, a Democrat, has a history of opposing free trade deals. He voted against NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement that removed trade tariffs between the U.S., Canada and Mexico and is said to have resulted in U.S. job losses, calling it a “tragic failure.” He also voted against CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, as well as trade agreements with Oman and Peru.
He opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership, saying it "will only do more damage to Wisconsin communities." The TPP is a massive international trade deal between the U.S. and 12 other Pacific-rim nations that could weaken labor protections and lower trade barriers. The agreement is awaiting congressional approval.
By contrast, Johnson supports free trade, saying “it lifts all boats.” Johnson voted for free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. He also voted to fast-track the TPP but says he won’t make a final decision until after the election. That may be because he didn’t read the drafts of the TPP, saying, "I've got far higher priorities." By allowing fast track, Congress will cannot make amendments or filibuster the agreement, and can only vote for or against it.
As a senator, Feingold voted to protect Davis-Bacon, in favor of a more democratic union election process for airline and rail workers, to incentivize hiring, school construction and renewable energy, against freezing federal pay, to support federal unemployment insurance, and to keep jobs in the U.S. by discouraging corporate offshoring.
In 2011, no longer in office, Feingold marched alongside public and private-sector working families as they protested the gutting of collective bargaining rights by Gov. Scott Walker.
Johnson is no fan of working families, supporting right-to-work and telling CNBC that the collective bargaining process needs to be restructured to keep it from “bankrupting states.” The AFL-CIO gives him a 3 percent lifetime rating.
Johnson voted to prevent the NLRB from implementing a rule that would make it harder for employers to delay union elections and against using the prevailing wage on Hurricane Sandy relief projects. He also voted to strip TSA employees of their collective bargaining rights.
Additionally, Johnson voted against a bill that would offer a tax credit to businesses who bring foreign jobs home; against the Buy American bill that would require the use of iron, steel and manufactured goods on certain federal projects; and against the nomination of Thomas Perez as labor secretary. Perez has served in that position since 2009, presiding over a number of rules and regulations to make union elections easier and more transparent, as well as to make the workplace safer.
Homepage photo used under a Flickr/Creative Commons licensing agreement byU.S. Institute of Peace