Report from America: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

By August 25, 2005Report from America

Report from AmericaFor anyone who loves manufacturing, there are few thrills as great as being in a big Midwest manufacturing city, taking it all in. The blogger-in-chief was in Oconomowoc speaking to the WMC meeting, a group of mostly HR folks, talking about the need to weigh in on HR issues like FMLA and ADA. These are two statutes that we support — and with which we comply — but both have wandered far afield from their roots. Most of the folks in the room today we’re sure had a horror story about FMLA and ADA abuse. We urged them to document these cases and pass them along to us and to their elected Representatives. Only then can we hope for meaningful correction (not reform) of these two laws.

Oh, we also put up a slide showing the NAM vote ratings of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation. All claim to be friends of manufacturing but the vote ratings tell a different tale.

But we digress: We traveled from Oconomowoc to Milwaukee. Driving through there on US 94 it’s a manufacturing paradise. The names of the great manufacturing names just scream at you: Miller just celebrated its 150th anniversary, only one year after Milwaukee-based Harley celebrated their centennial. There’s Rockwell/Allen-Bradley and a host of other billboards and signs of great American manufacturing names large and small.

And, Milwaukee is a microcosm of manufacturing. Once great, had some tough times but rebuilt. It’s a great city — the art museum with its gull-winged roof is just spectacular, especially on a brilliant summer day like yesterday. But it reminds us of the renaissance of manufacturing. A company like Harley that faced near-certain death and came bounding back to become a great American success story, told ’round the world. The power of the brand, the power of a Harley, the power of a great American manufacturer.

In any event, saw a bunch of manufacturers. All are well, working, innovating, competing every day, not looking for any special treatment or handouts, only wishing government wouldn’t be making it tougher for them to compete.