Walker at Work

Critique and Illustration by: Chris Talbot-Heindl

If we were to have a safe space meeting at my workplace, I don’t think I would have thought to include, “I would feel safer in a space were it not to be invaded by a politician who negatively impacted my family, friends, and state.” After today, I guess that will need to be included in future safe space meetings.

When I was informed of said invasion (one day prior to its occurrence, mind you), I was infuriated. Why was this smug asshole coming to my workplace? Why was I being asked to wear business casual attire to honor his visit? Why was I asked to attend a press conference? Wouldn’t being in attendance without a protest sign or my Cerberus of Fitzwalkerstan t-shirt indicate some sort of acceptance of the man and the policies he represents?

I was informed it was not mandatory, and I have to admit that I spent the better part of the next 24 hours trying to decide if I would attend (in-between doing my job, of course.) At some point, I decided not to. If I went, I would want to say something unflattering, but it would probably not be a good idea to do that as an employee of my workplace and not an individual on my own.

No matter. After I had decided and we were let out early from training, I was informed that although it was not compulsory, I was let out early in order to attend. It was disappointing that I had opted not to. So, I packed my things, and started to walk over to where the press conference was happening. And stopped.

And then started.

And then stopped.

And then climbed over a bush to avoid having to walk around the parking lot because of how far off course I was.

Louis Molepske, Jr. was also on his way in. He had a few questions for me about my workplace. To be honest, I’m not even sure what I said. I was only thinking of Scott Walker. Also, I wasn’t sure how much I was supposed to say or refrain from saying. So many confidentiality clauses – but he was asking specific stuff, so it was okay to say, “yes,” right? My stress levels were peaking.

He awkwardly introduced himself, and I awkwardly responded, “I know who you are.”

More stress levels rising. We got out of the elevator and walked toward the speech – he had already started.

He talked more articulately than I had expected. He said a few things that made my belly do flips because of the last three years of his rule. But nothing to write home about. I was expecting more. I was expecting to go through some seething anger. But he seemed like he genuinely believed all the good things he said he was doing/had done. And he seemed sincere in talking about all the great things “we” had done.

Next came the Q and A session. And here’s where the experience I was expecting to happen did. Let’s look at this as a representative from my workplace, in the job that I currently hold. Let’s monitor this:

Agent Used Proper Branding: Governor Walker did a great job branding the answers, making sure to use the company name, people’s names if he knew them, the name of the city, and area knowledge. This builds great rapport with the listener, making them feel as if he understands and cares about them as an individual.

Agent Took Ownership: Governor Walker did use “I” statements and “we” statements when appropriate. This made the listeners feel a sense of security, as in “we are all in this together.” The issue with some “I” statements used would be in taking credit where credit was not necessarily due. No deductions, just coaching.

Agent Utilized Active Listening: While the Governor did listen to most of the questions presented, it is very important to use active listening. This means paraphrasing a question or request to insure that it has been fully understood. This also means that Governor Walker should not talk over the asker. If an interruption does occur, yield to the asker, wait for the asker to finish, and apologize for the interruption. 10-point deduction.

Agent Utilized Proper Communication: The Governor did use minimal slang throughout the Q and A session. Watch the “umm,” “uhh,” as they may create doubt in the listener. No deductions, just coaching.

Agent Had Product/Service Knowledge: This is where the Governor really struggled.

When asked about what he specifically has done to promote job growth, the Governor simply guessed. This would be a good time to refer to resources – such as history.

For instance, the Governor stated that he had been dedicated to job growth in the Stevens Point area and around the state since he took office. He indicated that previous Governors had not been and when he took office, the unemployment rate was at an all-time high. While the comment about the unemployment rate was technically true, Wisconsin at that time was near the same rate as the nation. Since that time, Wisconsin has been at the bottom of job growth rate in the Midwest until just recently, when it barely overcame Illinois. In Stevens Point alone, Walker instigated the city almost losing hundreds of good-paying, skilled labor from Skyward. It was because of the efforts of State Representative Katrina Shankland and Senator Julie Lassa that it didn’t happen.

The Governor was asked what he was doing for transportation growth, since we do provide travel insurance at our workplace. The Governor indicated he was greatly dedicated. He stated that he put a lot of taxpayer money into insuring that the roads were well kept. He also stated that he was working on advertising to business people in China to fly to Chicago, drive through Wisconsin to see our Ginseng, and fly out of Minneapolis. Not only did this show a lack of knowledge about the products and services offered at the business (as well as a waste of taxpayer dollars), it also was a bit of a half-truth. The Governor did turn down the $810 million allocated to Wisconsin for the high-speed rail, which would have changed and increased the travel through Wisconsin as well as lead to 2,300 construction jobs and improved some of the deteriorating infrastructure already needing attention. Auto-fail.

While this Q and A session would normally have rated 80%, the misunderstanding and miscommunication of the product/service knowledge has resulted in auto-failure. If Governor Walker has questions about the monitor produced here, he should please direct them to his direct supervisor.

Perhaps the most insulting porky-pie that Walker stated was that he was integral in assisting the new jobs coming to my workplace by clearing away the red tape and allowing the business to run. This is a very common thing that a lot of Republicans tell themselves – that they believe in small government and they get rid of red tape. This is a lie. Republicans this year have increased the red tape for women trying to get assistance to feed their children, women trying to plan their families responsibly, women trying to get emergency contraception, the poor having access to food, and the poor having access to unemployment benefits, etc. What he meant to say, and likely what most Republicans mean to say is that they take away the red tape for the people who funded their campaigns; for the rest of us, it only gets redder and tapier.

What I can say, as far as Governor Walker taking credit for the hundreds of new jobs coming to my workplace, is that he is partially correct. If you take out the variables of my employer and CEO investing in his employees and the dozens of people who have been dedicatedly working on bringing four new programs to the business for the last year or couple of years, then we start to see his involvement.

If Governor Walker hadn’t crippled the renewable energy monies by creating excessive red tape for solar and wind to use the grants allocated to them while simultaneously removing the red tape for non-renewable resources to gain more subsidies, my good-paying, career-path job may not have been lost last year. If I hadn’t been laid off, I wouldn’t have been on unemployment. If Governor Walker hadn’t added red tape to the unemployment laws, I would have been able to deny a job offer that paid me less than my unemployment did. If I hadn’t had to take the job offered, I wouldn’t have been one of the eight people that piloted one of the new queues, and therefore, we may not have earned the new jobs. Of course, this is all speculation, as I’m sure out of all of my talented co-workers, they would have picked someone else to pilot the new queue, we still would have earned the new jobs. So, no, I guess, even if you take out everything, Governor Walker is still not responsible for the jobs.

In fact, what the hell was he even doing giving any sort of speech at my workplace? I guess it did give me some practice with QA-ing a delivery of information, without the option of pressing rewind…well, at least it’s something.