Barnes Asks Biden, Congress to Pressure Oshkosh Defense to Bring Union Jobs Home

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes speaks during a September 2021 appearance in Milwaukee by voting rights activist and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. (Photo by JT Cestkowski)

By Jonathon Sadowski
February 8, 2022

Call comes after Ron Johnson said he won’t fight for jobs in Oshkosh.

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes on Monday asked President Joe Biden and Congress to “do everything in your power” to make Oshkosh Defense reverse its decision to send jobs to a non-union plant in South Carolina rather than its unionized facility in Oshkosh.

Oshkosh Defense last year landed a massive federal contract to build United States Postal Service trucks—a work order estimated to create about 1,000 jobs—and chose to produce the vehicles in South Carolina rather than its hometown plant.

“I urge you to do everything in your power to reverse this decision,” Barnes, who is also running for US Senate, wrote in a letter to Biden and Congress. “This contract would create nearly 1,000 good paying union jobs and be an incredible boost to a state and region that are still recovering from the effects of the pandemic, and whose workers have all too often gotten the short end of the stick due to outsourcing and offshoring.”

RELATED: Ron Johnson Won’t Push for 1,000+ New Jobs in His Hometown

He also wrote to Oshkosh Defense’s board of directors and CEO John Pfeifer directly to “strongly urge you to reconsider.”

The call for federal intervention and letter to Oshkosh Defense come after Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, for whose seat Barnes is running, said he wouldn’t try to influence the company to reverse its decision

“It’s not like we don’t have enough jobs here in Wisconsin,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s comments drew quick rebuke from Barnes and other Democrats hoping to challenge him in the November election.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson called Johnson’s nonchalant attitude toward the company “beyond disgraceful.” State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski said “a US senator should fight tooth and nail to bring good jobs and taxpayer dollars back to our state.” Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry called Johnson “out of touch with the needs of Wisconsinites.”


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