Way back around the time when the Janesville GM Plant was winding down in its final days, I recall the editors of the Janesville Gazette writing a short series of editorials about the culture of manufacturing jobs and its related union affiliation. They wrote about how the culture of high school educated or less workers earning $50,000+ annual with benefits actually helped keep the Janesville economic and social set down. Not in those exact words, but they weren't very nice about it and in fact implied we'll be better off without manufacturing jobs and the union culture that tends to follow.
Since that time however, quite a few things have changed. Top officials in the local business lobbies were caught on camera gloating over the suggestion that the area's remaining unemployed will have no choice but to take much less in wages if they expect to land a job because local employers will no longer have to compete with GM wages for skilled labor.
These same groups ironically enough, along with their media enabler Gazette, have since embarked on a publicity campaign to encourage new graduates to consider manufacturing for their career. It's a complete about-face.
In fact, last year the Janesville Gazette published an article about all the glory that awaits job seekers in the manufacturing sector in the state of Wisconsin. The article titled, "State Manufacturers Have jobs, Need Workers" was written by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, helped build the meme about Wisconsin's so-called skills gap. The core of the story was that students perception of manufacturing jobs is outdated. That those are the jobs that are indeed in high demand.
At the time, I agreed that those workers might be in demand by manufacturing employers, but countered that because of the steady beat down of unions, wages and benefits, those jobs are no longer in demand by students and other able-bodied working age adults. The jobs are noble, but the wages are not.
I'll admit, there's a pretty big reality gap there, but until something changes on the compensation front, students and other working age adults are left with no choice but to pursue higher education if they expect to afford raising a family in the near future.
A recent survey conducted by the area's divide and conquer business group, Rock County 5.0, of Rock County area students confirmed my suspicions and produced the expected result.
-- Of those thinking about technical careers, just 2.1 percent indicated an interest in manufacturing.
Gotta' wonder what did the Rock County 5.0 expect after their beat down campaign succeeded?
Because, when you beat down unions, you also beat down the higher wages and benefits they represent and end up killing off student demand for jobs unions not only covered, but also other staples necessary to bolster vibrant local economies such as jobs in education and the many skilled trades. Again, the workers are in demand, but fewer and fewer want those jobs, and not because they lack the skill. Because of the beatdown, the leverage is backwards. That is the reality.
This steady beatdown is what most folks paying attention call the race to the bottom, and yet nearly everything I've written here is the result of legislation the smiling folks at our local business groups demanded, but now want to adapt to their new paradigm.
One last observation for this post is about our single party ruled corporate red state government and their media enablers latest campaign to shift the pursuit of the American Dream away from an individual's pursuit of happiness to the corporation's pursuit of happiness.
In a Gazette magazine presentation about the area's economic future, Vision 2020, there are multiple passages alluding to that shift in perception and pursuit. One example is this statement from the Director of Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development on Page 12 ...
Vision 2020 Excerpt:
Borremans is concerned that schools have for too long tried to satisfy students’ passions instead of the local economy’s needs.
Only as an exception to the rule, there is some merit to that reasoning. But it’s suddenly no longer about our own individuality or to control our own destiny, or to be the master of our own pursuit of happiness. It’s become about satisfying somebody else’s version of happiness – and that version could be society’s, a corporation’s or the state’s plans for our happiness.
That in my opinion is not what America is about ...at all.