Wachs casts support for union in potential UPS strike

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Union workers at UPS have recently voted in favor of a potential strike and the move has prompted one candidate for governor in Wisconsin to throw his support for them.

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Democratic State Rep. Dana Wachs issued a statement Tuesday in favor of the Teamsters. Last week, the organization saw 90 percent of its members voted to strike if necessary.

UPS and the union are negotiating on a number of things, including wages, benefits and work conditions.

"UPS is a good company. The workers there made it a good company," he said to WEAU 13 News on Wednesday. “I'm very confident that this will get resolved in the long run.

“I do not know all the ins and outs of all of the negotiating tactics and what's going on at UPS. I just generally stand with labor and I stand with unions.”

While on the surface, the issues between ups and the teamsters union, those on both sides of the aisle agree this issue is now opening up the debate over labor and its rights in Wisconsin – specifically, Republican incumbent Gov. Scott Walker's moves tied to Act 10. That’s the law which curtailed collective bargaining rights for most public employees in the state.

“He’s functionally been warring on unions and on labor. The problem with that is it drives the wages down,” Wachs said. “If you go to war on unions, you're going to drive wages down and people are going to have to have two or three jobs just to keep a roof over their head.

“The only way to have a robust economy is to make sure you have a middle class that's expanding. Unions are what brought about the middle class in the first place and keeps the middle class expanding.”

While Wachs said the makes the move to support labor, Brian Westrate, the GOP chair for the Third Congressional District, said it is a move to court the labor vote.

“We've got another politician jumping into something that doesn't involve him, seeking to garner support from big labor,” he said to WEAU 13 News on Wednesday. “Democrats in Wisconsin and throughout the country for 70 years have been supported by big labor.”

Despite this, Westrate views his side of the aisle – and his party’s standard bearer in the state’s top job – as the right one in the battle involving labor and business.

"What Governor Walker has done, and I think Republicans at the national level have done, is they've made it so that everybody's got money in their pocket and a job to go to in the morning,” he said. “I don't care if you work for a union or for somebody else, you're happy about that at the end of the day."

In a statement to WEAU, Republican Party of Wisconsin communications director Alec Zimmerman said: "Democrats like liberal trial attorney Dana Wachs are so desperate to regain power they will say or do anything, including intentionally mislead voters on the strength of the Wisconsin comeback.

“Thanks to the reforms of Governor Walker and Wisconsin Republicans, our state has more people working than ever before, record-low unemployment, and high-paying jobs coming that will help increase wages in Wisconsin."

Wachs said it is the workers who were behind his show of support for the Teamsters.

"Everyone wants to make sure that the UPS business is healthy, but everybody needs to also make darn sure that the middle class and the workers are getting family-sustaining type wages for the work that they're doing."

UPS sent a statement to WEAU on Wednesday, regarding the potential for the strike, saying:

“Strike authorization votes do not mean a strike is imminent. The reality is that UPS and the Teamsters have already reached tentative agreements, subject to ratification, on a wide variety of non-economic issues. Business continues as usual at UPS, and we continue to negotiate with the Teamsters about two weeks every month. UPS is confident in our ability to reach an agreement that meets the needs of our employees and the business.”