MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The state of labor union workers will welcome a big name guest to Laborfest, The President of the United States.
The visit will serve to energize a labor movement already mobilized to try for a 3rd time in four years, to unseat Governor Scott Walker.
The President will speak at Henry Maier Festival Park on Monday afternoon, September 1st. This is an official White House visit, but many Wisconsin political observers see this as a high-profile kickoff of the campaign for governor.
“We are extraordinarily thrilled that the President of the United States has decided to grace us with his presence one more time on Labor Day,” said Shelia Cochran, Wisconsin AFL-CIO.
For the first time since his appearance in 2010, President Barack Obama will speak before thousands of union workers.
Milwaukee is the epicenter of the national struggle over worker’s rights.
“This state has pretty much been the loudest arena where that debate has played out nationally,” said Chris Abele, Milwaukee County Executive.
Abele said, even though the president will come in his official capacity, the campaign provides the backdrop.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he would be interested in coming out here, especially when the debate is about to get revisited in the Gubernatorial election,” said Abele.
But Wisconsin Republicans like State Representative Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield, say voters are rejecting the president’s policies.
“President Obama has been a disaster for Wisconsin’s middle class, and his poll numbers show that, so the last thing Mary Burke wants to do is associate with someone whose domestic policies have not worked for the middle class,” said Kooyenga.
Sheila Cochran of the AFL-CIO is making the same argument about Governor Walker.
“My job — this is not the president’s job — my job is to help get rid of Scott Walker. Now that, I didn’t need a presidential visit to do.” said Cochran.
Cochran is warning that if Walker were elected to a 2nd term, he’d attempt to enact, “right work to legislation” which allows workers to avoid paying union dues, something Kooyenga says is a scare tactic.
“Republicans have been in charge for 4 years and right to work hasn’t even been introduced as a bill,” said Kooyenga.
In 2010, Obama spoke before an audience of 7,000. Organizers say there will be at least 5,000 union workers at this rally.
Only those with tickets will be allowed on the grounds.