Rail Jobs Axed by Wisconsin GOP Leaders

The anti-rail agenda that first brought Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker to national attention is on display again with a decision to back out of a $166 million rail maintenance contract. The move, which will trigger dozens of layoffs, follows an earlier decision by Walker to reject $810 million in federal funds for high-speed rail construction in the state.

The contract between Wisconsin and train manufacturer Talgo, Inc., called for rail workers, including IAM members, to provide upkeep for high-speed trains running between Milwaukee and Chicago on Amtrak’s Hiawatha Line.

In a letter to Talgo, Wisconsin Department of Transportation attorney Kathleen Chung said the state can no longer afford to make the payments required under the maintenance agreement and must end the deal.

“The department is putting politics ahead of legality,” said Talgo Vice President Nora Friend, who added the state was “acting in bad faith … in order to advance an agenda to kill the train project, regardless of the damage it inflicts upon Talgo, the state and the taxpayers.”