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Donald Trump visits Wisconsin to promote apprenticeships

June 13, 2017 GMT

President Donald Trump arrives in Wisconsin on Tuesday to promote apprenticeships and attend a fundraiser that Gov. Scott Walker is billing as “one of the biggest events we’ve ever had for a statewide elected official.”

Trump plans to tour Waukesha County Technical College with an entourage of White House staff. He plans to kick off his visit with comments at General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee.

Trump will tour several training classrooms, including an integrated manufacturing center classroom, with Gov. Scott Walker, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and daughter Ivanka Trump.

The group will then convene a discussion with local business owners trying to fill skilled job openings, teachers and apprentices.

Other participants will include White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, of Kenosha, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, Wisconsin Secretary of Workforce Development Ray Allen, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. CEO Mark Hogan, Mike Shiels, dean of the WCTC School of Applied Technologies, WCTC board chairwoman Mary Wehrheim, Waukesha School District Superintendent Todd Gray, three students and the CEOs of Rockwell Manufacturing, Oshkosh Corp., Briggs & Stratton, Mercury

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Marine and Quad Graphics.

Wisconsin has been at the forefront of creating apprenticeship programs to help workers prepare for technical fields. It’s registered apprenticeship model began in 1911 and became a model for the nation. Last year the program had more than 2,400 participating employers and more than 11,000 participants, a 6 percent increase over 2015, according to the Department of Workforce Development.

Walker has made workforce development a priority since failing by nearly half to make good on his pledge to help create 250,000 jobs in the state during his first term. There are nearly 100,000 job openings in the state.

Walker’s signature program has been Wisconsin Fast Forward, which has provided more than $19 million in grants to local businesses supporting more than 18,000 workers. It also has provided $35.4 million to school districts and technical colleges to reduce wait lists in high demand fields, as well as offer employment skills training for persons with disabilities, including disabled veterans.

Mike Rosen, president of the American Federation of Teachers Local 212, called Trump’s visit a “photo op show” and “real hypocrisy.” Trump’s budget proposal cuts workforce training programs by 40 percent, including a $1.5 million cut to Wisconsin’s $20 million in federal career and technical education grants.

Rosen also criticized Walker’s support for eliminating the prevailing wage for public construction projects and project labor agreements, in which local governments require companies bidding on projects to be unionized.

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“If we want to attract people into the field, the last thing you should be doing when there’s a shortage is reducing wages,” Rosen said. “When there are shortages, the way you address shortages if you use market mechanism is to raise the price, not to lower them. They’re moving us in the wrong direction.”

Trump also plans to meet with two Wisconsin residents the White House is calling “victims of Obamacare,” who have seen skyrocketing premium increases. Trump’s unpopular healthcare replacement plan has passed the House and is moving quietly toward Senate passage, though details of changes to the House bill have not been made public.

After the tour Trump will be attending an early evening fundraiser for Walker’s campaign in Milwaukee where tickets are $1,000 apiece and photos with the president cost an extra $10,000.

Walker told a national conservative talk radio host Monday that he advised Priebus recently that people in Wisconsin and around the country still support Trump, despite polls showing his approval rating sinking into the mid-30s.

“People outside of Washington still like his policies, still very much want him to move this country in the right direction,” Walker said.

Democrats sought to tie Walker and Trump together, saying Walker’s policies of tax cuts and austerity government have benefited the wealthy at the expense of workers.

“The one thing President Trump got right about a year ago is when he said Wisconsin is a disaster under Gov. Walker,” Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said, referring to Trump’s digs at Walker during the Republican presidential primary in 2015 and 2016.

Though Walker and Trump clashed during the primary, Trump previously supported Walker during his recall campaign and Walker has been a Trump defender during his tumultuous first four months in office.

The visit is Trump’s second since his inauguration. In April he signed executive orders aimed at helping U.S. workers compete in the global marketplace at Snap-On Tools Inc. in Kenosha.