Our Labor Day fact check roundup

Workers with Northcott Neighborhood House, a construction training organization, work on removing a portion of the roof from a house that was being deconstructed in Milwaukee on July 14, 2015. (Mike De Sisti photo)
Workers with Northcott Neighborhood House, a construction training organization, work on removing a portion of the roof from a house that was being deconstructed in Milwaukee on July 14, 2015. (Mike De Sisti photo)

Ahead of Labor Day 2015, we’ve collected eight of our fact checks from the past year that we think will be of interest to working folks in Wisconsin.

Given the recent discussion about raising the minimum wage and Gov. Scott Walker’s performance on jobs in Wisconsin, some of the issues we covered are likely to be debated long after summer has gone.

We’ve also checked claims about no more weekends for workers, more illegal immigrants taking jobs because of a repeal of the "prevailing wage" and differences in how much in political contributions can be made unions and businesses.

So, let’s dig in.

Wisconsin is "dead last in the Midwest for job creation."

-- U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison  

We rated that March 2015 claim True. The latest available quarterly data at the time from the federal government -- comparing job growth from June 2013 to June 2014 -- showed Wisconsin tied for ninth among 10 Midwestern states.

Private sector job growth was 1.5 percent during the period in both Wisconsin and South Dakota. North Dakota was tops, at 4.8 percent.

"The rate in which people are working (in Wisconsin) is almost five points higher than it is nationally."

-- Republican governor and presidential candidate Scott Walker

This claim, made five months after Pocan’s claim, refers to the federal Labor Force Participation Rate, which includes the number of people who are either employed or are actively looking for work. As of June 2015, the state’s rate was 67.9 percent, 5.3 percentage points higher than the national one. But Wisconsin’s labor force participation has exceeded the nation’s for years, starting well before Walker took office.

We rated the claim Mostly True.

"Scott Walker’s bad budget includes: No weekend for workers."

-- Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

Walker’s 2015-’17 state budget includes a provision, which applies to a fraction of all workers in the state, that permits employees in certain industries to voluntarily work seven days in a row.

So, we rated the union’s sweeping July 2015 statement as False.

A measure to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law would "make it easier for state contractors to hire illegal workers for Wisconsin construction jobs" through an "illegal worker loophole in the state budget."

-- Protect American Jobs

Walker signed a measure that repealed an 84-year-old law that set a minimum wage for construction workers involved with publicly funded projects. Beforehand, in May 2015, the Protect American Jobs group made its claim.

We rated it False, largely because the measure didn’t have any direct impact on immigration laws

In Wisconsin, unions can essentially give "unlimited" contributions to political parties, but business can't give any.

-- State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester

We rated this statement, from November 2014, as Mostly True. State law allows unions to make unlimited contributions to political parties, but in practice, they make no such direct contributions at all. Rather, they give to political action committees, which in turn are limited in what they can give to parties.

Meanwhile, business owners using their personal funds can contribute to political parties, within limits, but corporations can't make any such contributions.

Ron Johnson "opposes entirely a federal minimum wage," except perhaps for "guest workers."

-- Democrat Russ Feingold, former U.S. senator and current Senate candidate

That August 2015 was rated True.  Johnson has said there shouldn’t be a general federal minimum wage and he didn’t dispute Feingold’s claim.

Wisconsin’s economy has "tanked" under Gov. Scott Walker and "so far in 2015 over 6,685 people have been laid off, already more than in all of 2014."

-- American Bridge 21st Century

This Democratic super PAC’s claim in July 2015 was rated False. The layoff notices cited by the group do not represent bodies out the door and, though higher than last year, they are not a reliable economic indicator.

Moreover, other reports said employers overall added about 13,000 jobs in the first five months of 2015, a pace higher than a year earlier.

"Nationally, the unemployment rate for veterans is far greater than the national unemployment rate," and Wisconsin is "one of those rare examples where unemployment is actually lower for veterans than it is for the population as a whole and certainly lower than it is nationally."

-- Walker

The governor made his statement in May 2015 on the presidential campaign trail in New Hampshire. We rated it Half True, as his claim was a mixed bag.

As Walker indicated, Wisconsin's unemployment rate for veterans was 4.1 percent, lower than the rate for non-veterans of 5.4 percent. But that wasn’t rare -- 32 other states also had veteran unemployment rates lower than non-veterans.

And as Walker suggested, Wisconsin's veteran unemployment rate of 4.1 percent was lower than the national veteran rate of 5.3 percent. But unlike what Walker said, the national unemployment rate for veterans of 5.3 percent was lower than the 6 percent for non-veterans.