Editor's note: This is one of two stories we are writing about Monday's Racine County Economic Business Forum. Check back this afternoon to read about what the Legislators and business owners had to say.
A crowd of about 50 protesters chanted about jobs creation and taxing the rich in front of the Racine Marriott, 7011 Washington Ave., Monday morning.
Inside the hotel, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-Janesville), State Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), State Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), State Rep. Corey Mason (D-Racine) and other legislators spoke to business owners about those very topics.
Members of the postal and iron workers union, and a group called Wisconsin Jobs Now, protested while the summit was going on, they also met vendors from the Racine County Economic Development Corporation, Gateway Technical College and the Racine County Workforce Development Center.
One of the protesters, Randy Bryce, of Caledonia, has been out of work for a week and a half, but was laid off earlier this year for five months. As an ironworker, he says there is a lot of projects he could work on and he sees himself as a potential job creator if President Obama's jobs bill were allowed to pass.
"Giving tax breaks to companies really isn't working," Bryce said. "We got out of a Depression last time by investing in our infrastructure, we can do it again."
Speaking to a crowd of protesters, Bryce held a picture of a bridge on Highway 20 that goes over Sixth Street that is in disrepair.
"If we could only have good paying jobs, we could stimulate the economy," Bryce said.
Jackie Goebel, of Kenosha, has worked at Wal-Mart for 23 years.
She pointed out that the average starting wage for an associate is $8.75 compared to the $16,826 hourly wage Mike Duke, the CEO of Wal-Mart makes. The starting wage for associates isn't enough to pay for health insurance, she said.
"I had a co-worker of mine who had a toot ache," Goebel said. "I told him I would help him find a dentist that could help him at low or no cost and to give me a few days. He couldn't wait. He pulled his own tooth. And that's not the first time."
Goebel said Ryan's moral compass is pointed in the wrong direction, that corporations need to pay their fair share.
"He needs to stand up for people who are unemployed," she said.
As the group chanted, cars passed by and drivers beeped their horns. For about a half hour they protested. Then, some went inside the hotel restaurant.
"We have meal tickets," said. "We'll probably have extra."