Ron Johnson (left) talks with Mathison
Manufacturing Inc. President Al Leidinger during a
tour of the company Friday
- Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, visited
Mathison Manufacturing Inc., a local company that
specializes in metal fabrication, on Friday morning.
After a brief tour, the main topic of discussion was the
recent tariffs on metal that President Donald Trump has
imposed on U.S. allies. With a company like Mathison
going through countless sheets of metal daily, it is a
strong representative for the kinds of businesses that
are affected by these tariffs.
do strongly disagree with what President Trump is doing
on trade,” said Johnson. “[But] I’m willing to
give him some leeway. I don’t want to take away his
added that starting a trade war is counterproductive,
but he does support Trump’s aggressive stance on
China’s tariffs, which he says are theft.
stressed finalizing trade deals with U.S. allies as
quickly as possible, to help prevent a trade war from
spinning out of control and to keep American businesses
Friday’s Q&A session, Johnson also addressed the
difficulty nationwide of finding skilled trade workers.
Mathison President Al Leidinger says that between a
skills gap and labor shortage, he does consider himself
understaffed. Johnson said in seven years of visiting
similar companies, he hasn’t found a single one that
has claimed they can hire enough people. When asked what
state and federal governments are doing to open up
vocational/trades training, Johnson said, “First of
all, the federal government has already done too much
harm. The beauty about workforce development is this is
something you can fix at a local level.”
encourages local companies to get into their school
systems as much as possible and to also get students
into their businesses to make sure they are informed on
all their options. Johnson said workforce development
can progress with an attitude change. Students need to
stop hearing that they need a four-year degree to be
successful, he said.
a hot topic over the past year, Johnson shared his
thoughts on school safety and gun control, which he says
won’t fix the issue at hand.
not yet seen more gun control that’s going to prevent
these things. I haven’t seen a proposal from that
standpoint, “ said Johnson.
points to enormous schools with large student
populations that alienate certain students as being one
of the reasons students/ school shooters resort to
violence, of which there are now so many examples to
said we need to re-evaluate as
a society and make sure we at least have some
basic safety measures in place, like more trained safety
officers, so possible criminals know they will meet
resistance if they walk into a school.
Lowe, chairman of the Waukesha County Democratic Party,
offered counterpoints to the topics addressed by Johnson
it comes to school safety and gun violence, Lowe thinks
saying guns are not a part of the equation is tone deaf,
and points to the U.S. as being unique in the number of
mass shooting incidents.
you look at the kids that commit these crimes, they
aren’t the bullied kids we thought they were.
There’s no single thing that we can put a finger on,
except the fact that they all had access to a gun,”
says passing universal background checks, an assault
weapons ban and common sense gun reforms, as well as
investing more money into mental health care, can all
happen in the immediate future to address the problem.
He added the students leading this movement are not
looking at the issue as being gun-related only, but as a
American businesses and the newly imposed tariffs, Lowe
agrees that starting a trade war is unwise.
Lowe says the effects will be felt locally by
companies in our everyday lives, like MillerCoors, whose
CEO told Bloomberg this week the company is expecting
metal tariffs to affect their profits by $40 million.
also agrees that as a society, we need to make sure kids
look at all their education options, but disagrees that
the federal government is to blame for educational
system woes like the student debt load, and instead
points to state government and institutions.