Wisconsin Main Street Alliance: Response to COWS analysis

Over the past 6 months the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Association, Speaker Vos and legislative leadership have been perpetuating a false narrative, which has been proven untrue again and again, that enhanced UI has been a major contributor to labor shortages in Wisconsin. It’s just not true, and that will be proven for Wisconsin once enhanced UI expires on Sept. 6th, as it has been in other states that ended them early.

What is true is that we need to pass policies that help employers, especially small businesses, and workers thrive. COWS recommends the following from their analysis:

  • More predictable schedules; 
  • Better wages; 
  • Stronger benefits; 
  • Improvements to public health;
  • Accessible health insurance; 
  • Affordable, high quality care for children. 

Policies to Help Achieve These Goals 

COVID has created a ‘great reset’ for many families. Some folks left industries all together. Others have not been able to find affordable, accessible and flexible child care to allow them to work and for it to make financial sense to do so. 

Many workers have died of COVID. For folks who are immunocompromised or have young children in their household this may give them pause to go back into industries where COVID risk is highest. This is impacting the industries, such as restaurants, bars or other food service sector businesses where labor force disruptions have been highest. 

The best thing we can do to help small business is to get everyone vaccinated.

According to Gusto:

“Ending enhanced Unemployment Insurance provisions is likely not the silver bullet to speeding up this economic recovery, and policymakers would be better-served by focusing on achieving higher vaccination rates and ensuring schools and child care centers can re-open in a safe and timely manner—particularly because these enhanced UI provisions are set to end for all states in several weeks.”

We need to finally take Badgercare expansion. While the American Rescue Plan helped to make marketplace health insurance far more affordable for millions of Americans and folks across Wisconsin, Badgercare is still a much better option for folks in lower earning jobs.

Private insurance carries higher out of pocket costs, deductibles and other barriers to workers and small business owners being able to utilize it, exacerbating health disparities, especially for women and people of color. While the lower cost marketplace plans are a good option for many, they aren’t a good option for all, and that’s why we need to expand Badgercare. 

Furthermore, if we pass Badgercare expansion with a public option that would give entrepreneurs and the smallest businesses peace of mind and the ability to make the jump to create a new business, instead of staying in a job simply to have group health insurance. Passing Badgercare expansion will be good for job creation in our state. 

We need to pass the #BuildBackBetter budget at the federal level to address childcare costs and access. It will cap childcare costs at 7% of income for the vast majority of workers and small business owners, as well as create a wage floor of $15 an hour to help providers attract and retain talent to help teach our next generation of kids. There is no better investment we can make in our future.

Keep an eye out for other sections of the COWS annual State of Working Wisconsin report. You’ll be able to find it here.

Unions: Wednesday, 9/1

Wages: Thursday, 9/2

Worker Experiences: Friday, 9/3

For more than two decades, the State of Working Wisconsin has presented the workers’ perspective in the state:

  • Who is winning, and who is being left out?
  • Where is disparity growing?
  • What’s happening to the economic chasm separating Black and white workers in the state?