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Senator Tammy Baldwin pushes for the Stop Bad Mergers Act to protect Wisconsin jobs

Source: Senator Tammy Baldwin / Civic Media / Canva

Senator Tammy Baldwin pushes for the Stop Bad Mergers Act to protect Wisconsin jobs

Senator Baldwin is advocating for enhanced FTC oversight and worker protections and joins the Matenaer on Air show to explain this proposal in response to job losses from corporate mergers

June 23, 2024 10:03 PM CDT

By: Teri Barr

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is pushing to protect Wisconsin jobs by highlighting the critical need for the Stop Bad Mergers Act. Baldwin joins Jane Matenaer, host of Matenaer on Air, to discuss a legislative proposal aimed at enhancing oversight of corporate mergers. The act is also a response to the abrupt closures of two major battery plants in Wisconsin, following the initial merger of Energizer and Rayovac in 2018.

Baldwin tells Matenaer, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved the merger hastily, without imposing any conditions to safeguard competition or consider the impact on employment. 

“This merger led to the recent shutdown of plants in Fennimore and Portage, Wisconsin, displacing hundreds of workers,” Baldwin says. “The FTC’s primary role includes protecting competition, which ideally should lead to lower consumer prices. However, it failed to evaluate the merger’s impact on jobs.”

Baldwin explains the proposed Stop Bad Mergers Act could rectify these oversights by granting the FTC authority to retrospectively assess approved mergers. It would mean another opportunity to look into the effects on consumer prices and employment.

“The bill would empower the FTC to scrutinize past mergers and ensure each one meets desired outcomes for consumers and workers,” Baldwin says. “The act would also mandate future merger evaluations would include worker input, providing a platform for employees to voice their concerns about potential job losses.” 

“It seems this could be a game-changer,” Matenaer replies. “Workers don’t typically have a say in corporate decisions even though their lives are directly impacted.”

The Senator also brings up the broader implications of mergers, especially in the evolving energy landscape.

 “With our shift towards clean energy, we need robust battery manufacturing. The closures of the Wisconsin plants, which produced hearing aid and standard alkaline batteries, takes a step backwards,” she says.

Matenaer asks if corporate practices are adding to the issue. And Baldwin responds by criticizing stock buybacks, which she links to decreased investment in workers and innovation. 

“Since the SEC allowed stock buybacks in the 1980s, we’ve seen corporations prioritize it over reinvestment in their workforce along with research and development,” Baldwin says. “I am advocating for measures like a surcharge on buybacks to curb the practice.”

Despite political divisions, Baldwin expressed optimism about finding common ground on economic and environmental issues. “Wisconsinites share a strong work ethic and a love for our state’s natural beauty. We agree on the need for good-paying jobs, clean water, and accessible healthcare,” she concluded.

Matenaer wraps up the discussion with the Senator calling for legislative reforms to protect workers and maintain competitive markets. 

“We must ensure corporate mergers benefit all stakeholders, not just shareholders,” Baldwin says.

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