Eau Claire (WQOW) – Over 40 different manufacturing companies attended the Chippewa Valley Technical College Manufacturing show Thursday. It was an opportunity for students to show off their projects and employers to show off what the field is all about. This year's show acquired the most manufactures it's seen in the four years it's been held. Those who went could explore careers and even test their welding skills on the spot. It went from 3:00-7:00 p.m. and it was free for the public to attend.
While students at CVTC have been discussing job opportunities with employers, lawmakers have been working on something that could put extra cash in their pockets. Two Republicans, Rep. Mark Born of Beaver Dam and Rep. Van Wanggaard of Racine, have authored the Voluntary Overtime Bill. It would allow those in the manufacturing industry to work seven days a week if they wanted to. Right now, the state law requires workers to rest at least one day.
“There's definitely a need, and most maintenance, the crews work 7 days a week, 24 hours a day at a lot of places. So however that shift work is divided. That demand has been there in manufacturing and it's ongoing,” said Tim Tewalt, CVTC Program Director.
“As far as our scheduling goes, I don't think we would ever need people working seven days a week but if something ever came up that we might have a deadline that we need to meet, having that option of that might be something that would be beneficial,” said Elisia Gonsowski of Riverside Machine and Engineering.
Right now, if employers want their employees to work more, they have to first put in a request with the Department of Workforce Development for approval.
Some worry that more work could bring more safety concerns.
“If they're putting in 12 hour days, 7 days a week, there are going to be safety concerns in that situation, but you'd have to be smart about the hours that you have people working and not over working them,” said Gonsowski.
If passed, manufacturers would have the same freedom as those in the restaurant or farming industries, who can voluntarily work seven days a week.
Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Schilling, a Democrat from La Crosse, believes this bill, paired with Right-to-Work legislation would move Wisconsin backward.