TUE AM News: Overhauling UI system won’t fix current delay, labor attorney says; Foxconn expects new contract by June

— Labor and employment attorney Victor Forberger argues that overhauling the UI computer system isn’t going to help the current delay in unemployed people getting their benefits.

The foundation of Gov. Tony Evers’ latest special session bill was to revamp the Unemployment Insurance system.

Evers had sought $5.3 million to begin the work and proposed $79.5 million in his budget to complete the overhaul. The bill the Legislature passed instead directs the Department of Workforce Development to seek and exhaust federal funding first. The agency could then come back to the Joint Finance Committee for additional state funds. 

Evers has argued that the computer issues could’ve been addressed by previous administrations and lawmakers over the past decade. Republicans have consistently knocked the guv for not taking action to begin the process, while the administration has argued it didn’t have the power to allocate the needed funding on its own.

But Forberger argued that other states with an outdated COBOL system, such as New Jersey, are running circles around Wisconsin when it comes to paying out claims. He cited that 76.1 percent of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims have been paid in New Jersey versus 28.9 percent in Wisconsin. 

“It’s four years away. It’s not going to fix anything right now,” said Forberger, who is also a supervising attorney for the Unemployment Compensation Appeals Clinic in Madison. “It’s not just the computer system that’s causing these problems.”

Read the full story at WisBusiness.com: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2021/overhauling-ui-system-wont-fix-current-delay-labor-attorney-argues/ 

— For about 30 years, the Unemployment Compensation Appeals Clinic has been giving free legal aid to people who are having trouble getting their unemployment through DWD. 

It’s staffed entirely by law students who are supervised by practicing attorneys at no charge to their clients.

Forberger has been volunteering with the clinic for more than a decade helping students with the cases — from interviewing the client to representing the client in the case. The client interviews were happening at the Labor Temple on Park Street one night a week. Now, all the interviews are happening via virtual conference calls. 

“And our caseload has skyrocketed,” he said. “And we are probably helping the most people out of any agency in the state right now.”

The clinic is currently helping about 20 people each week and is experiencing a six-week scheduling backlog. 

See more: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2021/overhauling-ui-system-wont-fix-current-delay-labor-attorney-argues/ 

— Foxconn says it’s likely to strike a new contract with the state by the end of June, according to a story by Focus Taiwan. 

The report features an interview with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Chairman Young-way Liu in which he said talks between the Taiwanese tech company and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. for a new deal have been proceeding smoothly. Hon Hai is otherwise known as Foxconn.

According to the publication, Liu did not disclose any other details about the expected new contract. But Foxconn had said in November that it was willing to agree to lower tax credits in exchange for “a flexible business environment.”

See the story: https://focustaiwan.tw/sci-tech/202102200016 

— Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corp. is permanently cutting nearly 130 jobs at two of its locations, according to a notice sent to the state Department of Workforce Development. 

The notice shows WPS expects 36 employees at the Monona location and 92 employees at the Rothschild location will be laid off beginning May 3. 

WPS cites competitive pressure and contract changes in the federal government contracts market for the layoffs. 

See the notice: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dislocatedworker/warn/2021/2021022601.pdf 

— Confidence remains high that consumers get what they pay for at Wisconsin businesses, according to a new report from the DATCP.

Throughout the year, ag agency inspectors tested product scales, registers, gas pumps and fuel quality at stores around the state to ensure accuracy at every transaction point. The state’s weights and measures team conducted 252,782 inspections at 5,946 business locations statewide in 2020.

Inspection results followed the trends of recent years. Almost all of the time, gas pumps continued to give the correct amount of fuel or even over-deliver, registers and deli scales were accurate, and packaged products sold by weight were correctly labeled. Inspectors also tested nearly 4,000 fuel samples for quality. Nearly 99 percent of the samples met the required national standards.

In response to inaccurate measurements, DATCP issued 4,413 correction orders and conducted 1,087 re-inspections to ensure that corrections were made.

“In 2020 businesses had to adapt and change quickly,” said Lara Sutherlin, administrator for DATCP’s Division of Trade and Consumer Protection. “Despite the many challenges they faced during the pandemic, they continued to maintain their scales, registers, and pumps to ensure accuracy and a fair transaction for consumers.”

— The DNR is seeking public comment by March 30 on a proposed Green Tier contract with an iron castings and machined components manufacturer out of De Pere. 

The C.A. Lawton Co. has been a Tier 1 participant in the Department of Natural Resource’s Green Tier program since 2013. The proposed contract would advance the company to Tier 2 of the program.

Tier 2 participants agree to meet rigorous eligibility requirements, which are negotiated into participation contracts with the DNR and interested stakeholders. These contracts enable significant environmental improvements and can allow for some regulatory flexibility. This contract will allow Lawton to obtain coverage under the Green Tier Registration Operation Permit. This requires that the facility maintain air emission levels below 80 percent of the major source thresholds.

“This is another tangible step in our decade-plus long Beyond Compliance program,” said Lawton CEO Alex Lawton. “Partnering with the State of Wisconsin on this progressive and thoughtful program is fantastic. It’s a very intentional way for good actors like our company to be both recognized and rewarded and for the state to gain both environmental improvement and efficiency in its operations. A true win-win situation.” 

— The state’s two school superintendent candidates say attracting and retaining skilled computer science teachers are key to improving student tech literacy. 

However, they disagreed in a pair of webcast conversations on how to best retain those newly skilled teachers and students. 

Pecatonica School District Superintendent Jill Underly and former Brown Deer School District Superintendent Deborah Kerr participated in a virtual discussion on computer science education in Wisconsin ahead of the February primary. The series was in partnership with WisPolitics.com, WisBusiness.com and the Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition. 

The duo, to face off in the April 6 election, agreed that increasing the number of teachers with computer science skills in schools will help improve computer technology literacy among students and help those students get jobs.

Read the full story at the WisPolitics.com Election Blog: https://www.wispolitics.com/2021/superintendent-candidates-aim-to-retain-computer-science-teachers-but-strategies-differ/ 

Watch the webcasts: https://www.wisbusiness.com/category/state-superintendent-webcasts/ 

— Wisconsin is expecting 47,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine next week, according to the Department of Health Services. 

The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine got its emergency use authorization from the FDA and CDC this weekend. It’s now the third coronavirus vaccine on the market and the only vaccine to require one dose for full protection against the disease, lessening the burden on vaccine providers.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is going to be a game changer for our statewide response to COVID-19,” Gov. Tony Evers said. “One of the biggest hurdles we have faced is supply, and this will get more vaccine into Wisconsin.”

The vaccine also has simpler storage requirements than the current vaccines. It can be kept in a refrigerator for up to three months, which allows the vaccine to be shipped directly to all areas of the state. It’s also highly effective at preventing infection, according to DHS.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is held to the same high safety standards by the FDA as the other authorized COVID-19 vaccines. The trials show it is very effective at protecting people against being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19. We strongly encourage you to take whichever vaccine you are offered when it is your turn,” added interim DHS Secretary Karen Timberlake. “Vaccinations are some of the best tools we have to overcome this virus. And just one year ago, we would have been astonished and thrilled to know that we would have three effective and safe vaccines available to us.”


# Ohio firm to meet with USPS over Oshkosh contract as Milwaukee pushes Century City for work


# After decades of success, State Street is struggling again. Help may not be forthcoming.

# State Street’s troubles are bad news for city budget and neighborhoods. 



– Leading Milwaukee advertising creative Rich Kohnke dies at age 60 https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/03/01/leading-milwaukee-advertising-creative-rich-kohnke.html 


– Wisconsin’s All Milk Price Dips to $17.50 in February http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=211&yr=2021 

– Other State Commodity Prices Were Mixed http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=212&yr=2021 

– Disaster Assistance Available to Wisconsin Producers Impacted by Recent Winter Storms https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2021/03/01/disaster-assistance-available-to-wisconsin-producers-impacted-by-recent-winter-storms/ 


– As banks across U.S. see drop in net income, Wisconsin institutions see growth https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/03/01/as-banks-across-us-see-drop-in-net-income.html 


– Here’s more on the car of the future that Foxconn and Fisker could produce in Wisconsin https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/03/01/more-on-car-of-the-future-fixconn-fisker-may-make.html 


– Those With Chronic Health Conditions Feel Ignored By Wisconsin COVID-19 Vaccine Effort https://www.wpr.org/those-chronic-health-conditions-feel-ignored-wisconsin-covid-19-vaccine-effort

– State Launches Online COVID-19 Vaccination Registry But Rollout Logistics Appear Wobbly https://www.wpr.org/state-launches-online-covid-19-vaccination-registry-rollout-logistics-appear-wobbly 


– Evers signs bill boosting pay for state public defenders https://www.channel3000.com/evers-signs-bill-boosting-pay-for-state-public-defenders/


– Survey: Nearly Half Of Wisconsin Manufacturers Say Business Still Down https://www.wpr.org/survey-nearly-half-wisconsin-manufacturers-say-business-still-down

– Private equity firm selling Dorner Manufacturing in $485 million deal https://biztimes.com/private-equity-firm-selling-dorner-manufacturing-in-485-million-deal/ 

– Milwaukee aldermen urge Oshkosh Defense to locate USPS production facility in Century City https://biztimes.com/milwaukee-aldermen-urge-oshkosh-defense-to-locate-usps-production-facility-in-century-city/ 


– GOP urges Evers to spend federal aid on in-person schools https://www.channel3000.com/gop-urges-evers-to-spend-federal-aid-on-in-person-schools/


– Maglio Companies hoping to acquire former Forrer facility to expand https://biztimes.com/maglio-companies-hoping-to-acquire-former-forrer-facility-to-expand/ 


– ‘Huge cultural loss’ if restaurants don’t recover, but help appears to be on the way https://madison.com/wsj/entertainment/dining/restaurants/huge-cultural-loss-if-restaurants-dont-recover-but-help-appears-to-be-on-the-way/article_66e302f2-714b-57c6-bbb7-579949a87c96.html

– Kohl’s partnership with Sephora includes beauty shops in Milwaukee area https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/03/01/kohls-sephora-partnership-milwaukee-locations.html 


– Racine County Visitor’s Bureau Suing Mount Pleasant Over Hotel Tax Dollars https://www.wpr.org/racine-county-visitors-bureau-suing-mount-pleasant-over-hotel-tax-dollars 


– Milwaukee airport January traffic still down 63%, but up slightly over prior month https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/03/01/milwaukee-airport-sees-improvement-in-traffic.html 


– WEC Energy Group paying $302 million for Kansas wind farm https://biztimes.com/wec-energy-group-paying-302-million-for-kansas-wind-farm/ 

– Coal helped WEC Energy perform well during cold February. Will renewables do the same in the future? https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/03/01/coal-helped-wec-energy-perform-well-during-cold.html 


<i>See these and other press releases: 

https://www.wisbusiness.com/press-releases/ </i>

– Skogen’s Festival Foods: Welcomes Jeff Main as VP information technology

– Fox Cities Chamber: Announces Werner Electric Supply as silver-certified employee friendly workplace

– Wells Fargo Advisors: Koepke to join West Bend branch

– UW Now: Restaurants today and in the future

– DHS: Groups now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine