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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Milwaukee labor, community groups highlight HSR-related job losses


Milwaukee community groups, labor organizations and unemployed residents scheduled a news media event today outside Talgo Inc.’s Milwaukee manufacturing plant to draw attention to Wisconsin’s October job loss number, which event organizers attributed in part to Gov. Scott Walker’s rejection of a Milwaukee-to-Madison high-speed rail connection.

Last week, it was reported that Wisconsin led the nation in job losses, many of which were within Milwaukee city limits. The event’s organizers say Walker’s cancellation of the HSR project contributed to job loss in the state.

 “It has been estimated that the high-speed rail project would have created between 5,000 and 13,000 jobs,” Citizen Action of Wisconsin officials said today in a prepared statement. “Similar high-speed train job creation projects are proceeding in other states. Talgo will be ending its train manufacturing in Milwaukee in 2012 due to the cancellation of the Wisconsin high-speed train.”

Walker campaigned for governor in 2010 on a promise to create 250,000 jobs in Wisconsin if he were elected. During the campaign, he also promised to kill the Milwaukee-Madison HSR project.

Walker’s anti-HSR stance ultimately led to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s decision to rescind nearly $810 million in federal grants the state received for the Milwaukee-Madison HSR line as well as other passenger-rail upgrades. Meanwhile, Talgo officials said they would relocate the Milwaukee high-speed train manufacturing facility to another state in 2012 if Wisconsin terminated its HSR program and, in turn, did not purchase additional train sets from the company.

Organizers of today’s event noted that the Wisconsin Department of Revenue has conceded that the state’s job losses in recent months likely will mean Walker may not reach his 250,000-job creation goal.

In addition to Citizen Action of Wisconsin, event sponsors were the African American Chamber of Commerce, League of Young Voters, Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope, 9 to 5, Occupy the Hood, Urban Underground, Voces de la Frontera, WI Jobs Now, AFT Local 212, Milwaukee Area Labor Council, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin and the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/30/2011