Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Supervisors Want County To Buy Only Union-Made Vehicles

Supervisors want only union-made, American vehicles for the county.

By - Aug 18th, 2023 08:54 pm

Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

A handful of Milwaukee County supervisors have added their names to legislation that would ask the county to only purchase vehicles from U.S. manufacturers whose workforces are represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW).

The resolution, sponsored by Sup. Peter Burgelis, states that the board “hereby requires all eligible vehicle class fleet purchases, when possible, be vehicles produced by workers represented by the UAW to promote and support American-built products.”

The resolution is co-sponsored by supervisors Caroline Gómez-TomFelesia Martin, Juan Miguel Martinez and Ryan Clancy. The resolution begins by stating the board’s support for labor unions. “Milwaukee County was a boon for manufacturing and building materials, however, with the onset of cheaper labor overseas, the county has seen drops in employment and industry.”

The resolution states that a buy-American policy for county vehicles will “support the American economy” and “requiring Milwaukee County fleet purchases be vehicles produced by United States-based manufacturers with UAW would support the American economy.”

While the union condition is new, there have been other attempts at buy-American policies in recent Milwaukee history. In 2017, then-alderman Tony Zielinski pushed for a policy that would have had the City of Milwaukee require developers seeking a local subsidy to use only U.S.-produced steel on their project.

In the U.S. the big three automakers –Ford, Stellantis and General Motors — are unionized. The following manufacturers have manufacturing footprints in North America but are not unionized: Tesla, Nissan, Toyota, Mercedes, BMW, Hyundai, Kia and Honda. UAW publishes an annual list of vehicles in the U.S. that union workers make.

While the resolution would only apply to cars, the two bus manufacturers the county has purchased from over the past two decades — Gillig and New Flyer — are both unionized.

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Categories: MKE County

3 thoughts on “MKE County: Supervisors Want County To Buy Only Union-Made Vehicles”

  1. Wardt01 says:

    Graham, will you include the amount of $ the politicians that support this policy have received from Unions as campaign contributions (aka bribes)?

    Also, which elected officials that are supporting this policy are on the “My pension will be a shit ton higher if I get re-elected due to the backstop” list? (Bruce Murphy needs to get that list compiled asap… and UM needs to include THAT BACKSTOP LIST as the hyperlink to their names on the UM website).

    The citizens of Milwaukee are being fleeced by the politicians more & more every day. Its puzzling why reporters no longer bother to ask basic questions of the people elected to steward our finances.

    Furthermore, UM (and I believe it was one of your’s Graham) ran a GREAT piece earlier this summer containing a detailed study and analysis about the County lowering our long term fleet expenses by replacing gas vehicles with hybrid/battery powered vehicles. Are these politicians now throwing that entire study out the door?

    Lastly, every $ spent to acquire more expensive vehicles is a $ that would have been paid to an actual Milwaukee County employee!! And it’s fair to assume these County employees spend the majority of their paychecks at businesses in (or near) Milwaukee County. Thereby helping keep more local residents employed, and keeping local wages competitive, and local business & restaurants open…. it’s the circle of life!

    Someone needs to ask these knucklehead politicians why they are voting to pay for the generous salary & benefits for private industry workers in far away factories – instead of spending that money to pay higher salaries to our own County employees.

    I’m kinda amazed that our own County employees aren’t having a shit fit about this!

    Do a follow up article by interviewing some of our County Transit employees, or City Garage Truck & snow plow drivers, or ask the cleaning & janitorial workers at county facilities….. ask them if they want to take a pay cut.

  2. Duane says:

    Great idea, too bad most don’t see it that way.

  3. danlarsen7007 says:

    With the auto industry as it it today, I can see a buy American clause effictively including a certain amount of US content. Your list of automakers with US footprints include a lot of good companies that should be included in any responsible quoting effort. Limiting to unionized facilities is pandering; I’m not saying they make poor or inferior vehicles (they don’t), but they DO need to compete with the open market. Unions should not be used to close off competition.

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