TUE AM News: Union accusing Seven Mile Creek Landfill owner of ‘unfair labor practices’; Evers announces up to $2.5M in tax credits for $220M Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals expansion

— The union representing workers at the Seven Mile Creek Landfill in Eau Claire County is accusing the owner of unfair labor practices. 

Local 139 of the International Union of Operating Engineers says the unfair labor practice charge is being investigated by the Minneapolis office of the National Labor Relations Board. Workers at the Seven Mile Creek location in Seymour began striking last week. 

According to a statement from the union, the company — GFL Environmental/Everglades Holdings LLC — has “unlawfully delayed and bargained in bad faith for an initial collective bargaining agreement” after employees unanimously voted for representation by the union in February of last year. 

“In the course of delaying negotiations, the Company has further unlawfully failed to maintain the status quo and retaliated against its newly-organized employees after they voted for the Union by failing to provide regular wage increases,” the union said in a statement. 

The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

In an interview, Local 139 Organizing Director Michael Ervin said the union wants to secure “fair” wages and benefits for employees of the Seymour landfill, in line with what workers at the Mallard Ridge Landfill in Walworth County are getting. That site is also owned and operated by GFL, he said. 

“We’re just trying to get the same thing for these guys,” he told WisBusiness.com. “After about 13 months of negotiating, since last April, we haven’t been able to get to the endgame here.” 

He said the union has accepted GFL’s wage proposal, but is still working with the company to get its benefits proposal approved. 

Ervin explained the charges filed with the NLRB include “bad faith bargaining and retaliation,” as some employees haven’t received annual raises during the bargaining process “like they’re supposed to for status quo.” And he said the company has delayed and canceled meetings and has provided proposals “literally minutes before the [bargaining] session, so we don’t have the time” to review the documents beforehand. 

“If they were to give us whatever their proposal is ahead of time, we could be farther along here,” he said. “We just feel that they’re not trying to move in a timely manner.” 

See the Local 139 statement here: https://www.wispolitics.com/2022/international-union-of-operating-engineers-local-139-on-strike-protesting-unfair-labor-practices-by-gfl-everglades-holdings-llc/ 

— Gov. Tony Evers announced Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals’ $220 million expansion in Verona will be eligible for up to $2.5 million in state tax credits. 

A release from the guv’s office shows the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. will be providing these business development tax credits to the California-based company if it “meets or exceeds” certain job creation and capital investment targets by the end of 2026. 

The project is expected to create at least 230 new jobs in the state. Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals currently has a research and development facility in Madison with 210 full-time employees, the release shows. The company’s new Verona project will include two buildings: a 125,000-square-foot laboratory and office facility, and a 160,000-square-foot drug manufacturing facility. 

Evers says Wisconsin “has been recognized as a powerhouse” for advancing biopharmaceutical research and manufacturing lifesaving treatments. 

“That means that companies like Arrowhead can research new therapies for debilitating diseases, bring them to market, and manufacture them all right here in Wisconsin,” he said in the release. 

The company is developing therapies that alter gene expression to treat various diseases of the cardiovascular system, liver, lungs and muscles, as well as cancer. 

See the release: 

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— WEDC is providing a $250,000 grant to Weinbrenner Shoe Company as it expands into an industrial building in Merrill. 

A release shows the business purchased the property last year for $300,000 from the Merrill Area Development Corporation, which had acquired it in 2017. The 14.2-acre property was previously occupied by Hurd Window and Doors from 1982 to 2008, and was vacant from then until 2015, according to WEDC. 

Several buildings on the lot were demolished that year in an asbestos remediation project, leaving just two buildings. The larger of the two, which is 142,000 square feet, will be used by the shoe company for manufacturing. The smaller 17,000-square-foot building will be used for storage. 

Weinbrenner Shoe Company will be adding new offices and a production line and installing a new roof, the release shows. The site is located less than a mile from the company’s existing facility in Merrill, and the expansion project is expected to create at least 50 new jobs. 

On top of the Idle Sites Redevelopment Grant from WEDC, the city is also providing $300,000 in incentives for the project, the release shows. 

See more project details in the release: 

— A Madison-based nonprofit called Sidekick Education has placed second in the “Big Ideas, Bright Cities Challenge” for a career advisory platform for young people. 

A release from the Global Business Coalition for Education shows Sidekick Education and the city of Madison will get a $10,000 award for a text-based artificial intelligence chatbot designed as a career advisory tool for people aged 16-24. 

Sarah Shaw, the nonprofit’s founder, says many high school graduates encounter a “supportive cliff” as they struggle to find resources related to further education and career opportunities. 

“Sidekick Education is using AI technology to build an in-pocket advisor that will help young people connect to the right resources at the right time so they can move into economically empowering futures,” she said in a statement. 

The contest award will be used to expand the nonprofit’s reach to “opportunity youth” — young people who aren’t in school or employed, and currently have “limited access” to career-readiness services. A pilot initiative is set to launch in June, the release shows. 

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/global-business-coalition-for-education-madison-based-organization-wins-10000-for-using-ai-to-support-youth-skills-development-sidekick-education-earns-second-place-in-big-ideas-bright-c/ 

See more on the contest here: https://skillsfriendlycities.org/ 


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