It might seem from the rhetoric that the largest hurdle to Wisconsin's economic recovery isn't a lack of jobs, but rather a lack of motivated workers.
Some pundits and lawmakers derided thousands of teachers and other public employees as lazy bums when protests erupted earlier this year over Gov. Scott Walker's plan to end 50 years of collective bargaining rights.
In June, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce vice president James Buchen worried that extending unemployment benefits by 13 weeks would hurt the state, telling The New York Times that employers are "having trouble hiring workers who are on unemployment because they want to wait until their benefits are exhausted."
Buchen also sits on the state's Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council.
And last week WMC's president, Kurt Bauer, suggested that manufacturing companies are hurting because of the work habits of Wisconsin employees.
Says Bauer in a recent press release, "Factories in many parts of the state have jobs available for qualified workers, but many employers complain applicants... [among other things] don't have the old-fashioned Midwestern work ethic our state is known for."
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is a business lobby that claims to represent 3,500 companies throughout Wisconsin but doesn't disclose who its members are.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairman Mike Tate says that insulting Wisconsin workers "is disgraceful," adding that he suspects WMC members have not suffered from the ailing economy like the rest of working Wisconsin.
"Wisconsin workers are not lazy, and they do not have too many rights," says Tate. "What they have now is a government controlled by those who see virtue in driving their wages and benefits underfoot."
WMC spokesman Jim Pugh says Bauer isn't calling workers lazy, clarifying that what employers are having trouble with is finding applicants who can pass drug tests and show up to work on time.
"The challenges employers face are dramatic," he says. "In no way are we calling people lazy."