The Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin (ABC of Wisconsin) on Saturday announced their endorsement for Dan Kelly, Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate who previously served under former Gov. Scott Walker on the Supreme Court.
Kelly is known for his conservative ruling history and faces the left-leaning Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz for the state Supreme Court race on April 4.
Walker who appointed Kelly supported Republican introduced legislation such as Act 10 and right-to-work in Wisconsin, which effectively ended collective bargaining for public employees.
Labor membership in Wisconsin fell dramatically after the passage of Act 10, the anti-public sector collective bargaining bill in 2011, with the sharpest decrease in the nation over the next decade. As of 2021, Wisconsin reached a new low just shy of 8% of the total workforce unionized, PBS reported.
On the opposite political end of the construction industry, labor unions like the Wisconsin Laborers’ District Council, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Wisconsin State Conference and the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO have pledged their support to Kelly’s opponent, Protasiewicz.
“We don’t look at the politics of a candidate, but we look at their policy. The Supreme Court is different because we won’t know what issues will go to court. Kelly’s ties to Walker are clear, and Act 10, right-to-work and repealing prevailing wage are unti-worker bills That alone leads us to Protasiewicz with our endorsements,” Kent Miller, President and Business Manager for the Wisconsin Laborers, told The Daily Reporter.
When Kelly was asked about his stance on unions and Act 10 in a February interview, Kelly said his feelings towards both were irrelevant to the work of the court. He deferred to the Legislature when asked about right-to-work laws at a luncheon with the Milwaukee Press Club and Rotary Club. However, Kelly’s deleted blog posts revealed his personal views on Act 10 as well as a number of other issues.
The trade association, made of small, non-union shops, chose Kelly for his track record while serving under Walker, ABC of Wisconsin Director of Legal and Government Relations John Schulze told The Daily Reporter. Kelly was the deciding vote to end an extension Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Construction was considered an essential service at the time, but there were still rules and protocols in place deciding what some businesses were permitted to do, Schulze said. The orders were a rule and would have to go through the procedure of similar state rules, he added.
“The way we do things is the Legislation passes it and the governor signs it,” Schulze said.
During the pandemic, labor and management met and drafted their own COVID-19 safety protocols for workers, the spokesperson added.