MILWAUKEE -- The company was supposed to create more than 100 jobs in Milwaukee, but now, Talgo train manufacturer has announced it will be laying off dozens of employees. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is blaming Governor Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers for the layoffs.
Whether Gary Pavloski and others will have a job at Talgo going forward was uncertain Wednesday morning, April 4th, after the Spanish trainmaker sent a letter to its union notifying it will begin layoffs of 35 employees at its facility in the city’s north side as early as this summer. “I've worked at this plant for 30 years. I worked for A.O. Smith and Teller Automotive. It's unfortunate, that so many people in the inner city need jobs,” Pavloski said.
Mayor Barrett blamed the Republican-controlled administration for this result. He says it all started last year when Governor Walker turned down a proposed high-speed rail line from Milwaukee to Madison. Then last month, the state Legislature's Joint Finance Committee voted against moving ahead with a maintenance facility to service new Talgo trains to be used for the Hiawatha line. “This did not have to happen. The federal government offered to pay Talgo workers to build more trains here, but Governor Walker and his allies in the Legislature said 'no.' If the Governor in this state was interested in creating jobs in the central city of Milwaukee, they would have gotten this done,”" Barrett said.
Barrett argues another 30 jobs could be lost down the road. Barrett, who is running for governor in the recall election, stressed this is not about his campaign. Instead, he and Democratic Rep. Gwen Moore are calling on lawmakers and the state's Department of Transportation to revisit the issue. “What I desperately need as the mayor of this city, is more family-supporting jobs,” Barrett said. “Milwaukee was going to be a major center for building trains, and now, we're in risk of having that cancelled,” Moore said.
“This is a bad train deal that doesn't go away. The Amtrak trains are $10 million less for maintenance,” State Sen. Alberta Darling (R- River Hills) said back in March. Darling is the co-chair of the committee.
The state Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb sent out the following statement: "The analysis concluded that the annual cost of operating and maintaining the Talgo trains would be $10 million greater (than using current Amtrak trains). The DOT stands behind the data and conclusions it provided to the Committee."
Meanwhile, Talgo's president has indicated the company was under a contract with the state, and if something isn't worked out, legal action could become a possibility.