Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

Lasry Revises His Minimum Wage Story

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate's campaign issues correction. But it's far from complete.

By - Jun 14th, 2021 04:35 pm
Alex Lasry. Photo from Lasry for Wisconsin.

Alex Lasry. Photo from Lasry for Wisconsin.

In response to an Urban Milwaukee story detailing misleading statements by Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Alex Lasry‘s campaign regarding his work to assure that employees working at the Milwaukee Bucks Fiserv Forum and Deer District get union jobs and a $15 an hour minimum wage, his campaign announced it was changing the language used on his campaign website.

“We acknowledge that the language on the website was not clear and have made the change to clarify it,” Lasry campaign spokesman Thad Nation told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

But the story by Bill Glauber gave the impression that there was one error regarding the year that Lasry claimed for beginning the minimum wage, rather than many misstatements. It also does its best to convince readers that Lasry was the central figure in Bucks labor negotiations, while ignoring an earlier Journal Sentinel story that suggests he passed the negotiations on to others.

Lasry’s campaign had originally claimed that “Alex turned his words into actions” and “led negotiations” to gain “a $15 minimum wage for all arena workers” by 2020 and “created good, union jobs in Milwaukee that pay family-sustaining wages” at Fiserv Forum and the Deer District.

But the record shows that:

-It was Democratic legislators who made clear they would not support a subsidy for the Bucks new arena unless the team agreed to negotiate with the unions and support the idea of a $15 minimum wage;

-But the Bucks repeatedly resisted union demands and a $15 wage prior to 2023, and a Bucks official told a union representative the team planned to operate the entire Fiserv sports and entertainment complex in a “non-union” environment;

-Only after Fiserv Forum stagehands repeatedly picketed the Bucks demanding a higher wage and generating embarrassing stories did the Bucks management agree to a higher wage;

-Only after members of the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization picketed the Bucks as members of the national media arrived for the Democratic National Convention did the Bucks agree to a contract that upped the minimum wage to $15 by 2020 rather than 2023 and provided other union benefits;

-And it’s unclear whether any Deer District employees have gotten any increase in the minimum wage. As recently as May 2019 some were earning just $10 an hour.

All of which is ignored in Glauber’s story, which suggests Lasry simply made an error in the year the minimum wage was increased rather than offering a wholesale revision of the Bucks stance on offering union jobs and higher wages.  The story also portrays Lasry as the key leader in handling negotiations. But to do that Glauber had to leave out a past Journal Sentinel story which portrays Lasry as intermediary who offered the union a meeting with Bucks President Peter Feigin and arena general manager Raj Saha, on the condition that the union end its picketing.

As the JS editors always used to say: “check the clips.” Maybe they don’t say that anymore.

Correction: This story incorrectly stated that the legislation subsidizing the Bucks arena called for the team to negotiate with the unions and support a $15 per hour wage. It did not. But Democrats made clear they would not vote for the bill unless the team agreed to pursue these goals.

One thought on “Back in the News: Lasry Revises His Minimum Wage Story”

  1. NieWiederKrieg says:

    Great reporting and fact checking, Bruce Murphy…

    There’s an interview that Alex Lasry recently gave to Wisconsin Public Radio… Lasry tells WPR that 85% of the Senate campaign donations he received are less than $200 (because he’s so beloved by the common man)… But if you go to the Federal Election Commission web site and check the donations received by Alex Lasry, 99% of the donations are OVER $200… And some of the donations under $200 were part of a total donation worth $2,900…

    I thought that Scott Walker was a liar, but Alex Lasry has him beat by 100 yards in a 50 yard dash…

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