Reality Check: Candidates trade barbs over outsourcing

Candidates in the race for governor are at war over outsourcing
Reality Check: Candidates trade barbs over outsourcing
Mary Burke and Scott Walker

Candidates in the race for governor are at war over outsourcing, accusing each other of sending jobs overseas.

The latest ad from Governor Scott Walker shows a woman reading a children’s book about outsourcing.

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your fortune grow?” the woman reads.  “By making millions of dollars sending jobs overseas that could have been done in Wisconsin.”

News 3 finds this needs clarification.

The ad shows a cartoon Mary Burke, the democratic challenger for governor, and cartoon bikes, referring to her role at Trek Bicycle.  Burke’s father founded the company in Waterloo and she’s worked for them twice over the years.  She was in the company’s European division in the 90s and then came back to be the Director of Strategic Planning until she left the company in May of 2004.

In March of 2004, Trek did lay off some Wisconsin workers and move those jobs to China.  But Trek President and Mary’s brother John Burke said in a statement released Thursday,”Mary Burke did not make any manufacturing decisions. I did.”  He says children don’t work in their factories, and defends his decision to source product overseas.

But there is a question about whether Mary Burke profitted from the outsourcing.  She left the company shortly after those decisions were made, but does remain a major Trek shareholder.  It’s unclear how much she makes from that.

Burke now claims in her latest ad, that Govenror Walker has outsourcing issues too.

“It’s Walker’s agency that gave millions of dollars in tax breaks to companies who relocated jobs overseas,” Burke’s ad says.

News 3 finds this is true.

Recent investigations have shown that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation issued millions in tax credits to two corporations who both laid off workers and sent jobs overseas.  The head of WEDC told a reporter this week that some companies need to outsource to be successful.

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