By Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes
Candidate for U.S. Senate
This week, I had the honor of celebrating Labor Day across the state. I had the opportunity to walk alongside union members and union supporters and reaffirm our shared commitment to putting workers first – a commitment I’ve held since I was a child.
Like so many Wisconsinites, I don’t come from a wealthy or well-connected family. I grew up in Milwaukee in a proud union household. My grandfather worked as a steelworker at A.O. Smith after he came back from World War II. My dad worked 3rd shift at the GM factory and my mom was a public school teacher.
My story wouldn’t be possible without my parents’ union jobs. They were our ticket into the middle class — a ticket that too many people can’t access anymore.
Their union jobs were the type of job that lets you pay down your mortgage, and put some money away to get you through tough times. They were the jobs that let your kids go to college if they wanted to, or let you take care of your parents when they get sick without worrying about putting food on the table.
I have been so proud to stand in solidarity with union members from across the state, both as a legislator and as Lt. Governor. We’ve fought for labor rights and pushed back against the assault on our workers and our unions.
As I look around our state now, I see times are getting harder. Prices are rising but wages are not keeping up. The manufacturing industry that gave my family a shot is in crisis.
The middle class is under attack by politicians like Ron Johnson.
It feels like the deck is stacked against us. But we don’t want handouts, we just want a fair shot. We want an opportunity to have dignity at work.
And we won’t get any of that with Ron Johnson in the Senate.
Since taking office, Ron Johnson secured tax benefits that gave two of his biggest donor families more than $200 million tax deductions alone, but he wants to put the Social Security benefits our seniors have worked their entire lives for on the chopping block. He’s received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Big Pharma while he calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act and voted against lowering drug prices.
When his corporate donors decided to create new jobs in South Carolina instead of Wisconsin, he didn’t fight for us – he made excuses for them. He chose his wealthy donors over working people in Wisconsin time and time again.
He did it again when he voted against the CHIPS Act, an opportunity to breathe new life into industries by manufacturing the chips of tomorrow. But Ron Johnson doesn’t care about us.
If it doesn’t help his wealthy donors or his own self-interests, Ron Johnson won’t support it. He’s only ever thinking about the big corporations and the CEOs raking in millions while we struggle. Ron Johnson tries to divide us and distract us from what he’s doing in Washington, but here’s what he doesn’t understand.
We have more in common with each other than any of us do with a self-serving multi-millionaire like Ron Johnson.
It’s time for us to be represented by people who share our experiences and our Wisconsin values. Someone who believes workers have earned the right to be respected, protected, and paid. We need to elect people who will fight for the right to organize, fair wages, and stronger pensions.
When I go to Washington I won’t stand with the fancy lobbyists that love Ron Johnson. I’m going to stand with unions, with workers, and with Wisconsinites from all corners of our state.
I’ve seen the impact that anti-worker laws have had on our state and its people. We all know someone who was laid off because of outsourcing or corporate consolidation.
I share your fears and struggles – but I also share your hopes and dreams.
And we should have hope, because in our greatest challenges are our greatest opportunities. We have an opportunity to bring manufacturing back and give everyone a fair shot.
We have the opportunity to put workers first, bring supply chains back to America, and make chips right here in Wisconsin.
It’s going to be hard. But hard doesn’t scare me. Because as I learned growing up in a union family, this fight will be that much easier when we stand in solidarity and we do it together.
I’m running for Senate because I believe that better is possible. I believe in the strength of unions. I believe we can create a future where hard work pays off and everyone gets a fair shot at the American dream.
Ron Johnson has had his day. Now it’s our time.
This is a fight for freedom, for fairness, and for our future. This is a fight we’re going to win.