Tuesday Trends sample: Oshkosh Corp. rising, broadband expansion mixed and milk board falling

Below is an excerpt from the most recent edition of WisBusiness Tuesday Trends.

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RISING

Oshkosh Corp.: The vehicle manufacturer reaches a deal with its employees in United Auto Workers Local 578, with members voting to ratify the new five-year deal Saturday. The union had rejected two previous offers from Oshkosh Corp., largely due to issues surrounding the use of temporary workers. With that language removed, some 77 percent of membership votes to approve the latest contract offer, which included a 1.5 percent wage increase in the first year, building toward an 8.5 percent increase by the end of the deal. The previous five-year contract expired at the end of September, and negotiations had provided some anxious moments — including some employees walking an informational picket line.

MIXED

Broadband expansion: Panelists at a discussion of broadband issues in Madison say its expansion in Wisconsin will be a major force for economic development in the years to come. But the use of public funds to back the increase of high-speed Internet service in under-served areas of the state sparks disagreement. State Rep. Mark Honadel, a South Milwaukee Republican and the author of a wide-ranging overhaul of state telecommunications regulations earlier this year, says he’s reluctant to push additional legislation until the new law’s impact is known and the Public Service Commission completes a study of the issue next year. Critics, however, push for more urgent action, expressing skepticism about the new telecom law’s effect on broadband expansion and touting the economic potential of moving quickly. Andy Lewis, a community and economic development manager with UW-Extension, adds that Wisconsin ranks “down there with Guam and West Virginia” in the number of households with access to broadband.

FALLING

Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board: An analysis from a watchdog group says the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board — a $30 million non-profit organization — occasionally overstates the health benefits of dairy products. In once instance, the board recommends more servings of milk for children than the level endorsed by the USDA, and allegedly inflates the impact of dairy on calcium levels and bone health. In another, the board touts chocolate milk as a healthy sports drink following exercise, while health officials say that promotes adding sugar to an otherwise healthy drink. Meanwhile, the marketing board continues to promote dairy products as part of weight loss efforts despite the Federal Trade Commission pressuring other groups to drop those claims four years ago. A group spokesman says its claims are based on sound research and are constantly updated.