Roger Bybee

Roger Bybee, based in Milwaukee, has written on labor and economic issues for the past 36 years, including 14 years as editor of The Racine Labor weekly. Bybee's work has been included in several anthologies, and he teaches Labor Studies as the University of Illinois.

Recent Articles

Milwaukee Riots Fed by Decades of African American Economic Insecurity

The recent unrest in Milwaukee spotlights the deindustrialization and hyper-segregation that has devastated the city’s communities of color.

AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps
AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps Police move in on a group of protesters throwing rocks at them in Milwaukee, Sunday, August 14, 2016. T he recent outbreak of violent rioting in Milwaukee came as no surprise to anyone paying even the slightest attention to the deterioration of conditions for the city’s African Americans, especially the young. The immediate trigger for an outbreak of gunshots, rock-throwing, and the torching of six businesses was the slaying of a 23-year-old African American by an African American cop. The shooting victim, who had a record of serious crimes, was reportedly carrying a 23-shot pistol, but videotape footage taken by the officer’s “bodycam” has not yet been released, although officials contend that it vindicates the officer’s actions. The killing took place in the volatile context of the city’s “ hyper-segregation ,” intensifying poverty, and repeated police abuse. Discontent with the police escalated over the past several years with the fatal shooting in 2014 of...

Ryan Seeks to Restore GOP’s Elite-Focused Agenda

The speaker’s populist overtures will do little to bridge the gap between the GOP’s donor class and its blue-collar base.

Anthony Wahl/The Janesville Gazette via AP
Anthony Wahl/The Janesville Gazette via AP House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks inside the Armory in Janesville, Wisconsin, following his defeat of first-time candidate Paul Nehlen in Wisconsin's primary on Tuesday, August 9, 2016. D onald Trump’s blistering attacks on trade deals with Mexico and China, regardless of how simplistic and distorted , have placed House Speaker Paul Ryan in an awkward spot, in part because of his own entrenched “free-trade” beliefs—and those of the Republican donor class he has so skillfully cultivated . But Ryan’s position is most precarious because if he harbors ambitions for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination, he wants to avoid alienating the supporters of Donald Trump, whom, despite mounting criticism of his support for the New Yorker, he has continued to endorse. To balance his own fiercely held convictions on “free trade” and austerity policies with Trump’s contradictory economic direction, Ryan has been going through a remarkable set of...

Wisconsin Redistricting Lawsuit Could Reverberate Nationally

A federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn state legislative district lines could have sweeping implications for gerrymandered districts nationwide.

AP Photo/Morry Gash, File
AP Photo/Morry Gash, File Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at a news conference in Madison. A fter a century as a trailblazer for progressive democracy reforms, Wisconsin has become what one local union leader ruefully calls “a kind of laboratory for oligarchs to implement their political and economic agenda.” This assessment, delivered by David Poklinkoski, president of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2304, captures Wisconsin Democrats’ dim view of the brazenly partisan redistricting plan masterminded by GOP Governor Scott Walker. But the redistricting plan, so central in empowering Walker and his legislative allies to roll back social reforms in Wisconsin, is now the target of a federal lawsuit. First heard by federal judges in May, the suit is now before an appeals court that is expected to rule this summer. That ruling could reverberate in other states around the country with heavily GOP-tilted electoral maps. While a few Democratic-controlled state...

Dodging Taxes Through Corporate “Inversions”

Johnson Controls is the latest in a string of American companies that save millions in taxes by moving U.S. headquarters overseas, costing Americans jobs and eroding the nation’s corporate tax base.

(Photo: AP/Kristoffer Tripplaar)
(Photo: AP/Kristoffer Tripplaar) In January, Johnson Controls announced that it would transfer its official corporate headquarters from Milwaukee, Wisconsin (above), to Cork, Ireland. I n 2014, Wisconsin-based manufacturing giant Johnson Controls rose to 66th place on the Fortune 500. The company’s soaring profits came thanks in no small part to a string of bailouts, tax breaks, and subsidies from the federal government. But in January, Johnson announced that it would merge with overseas manufacturer Tyco International and transfer its official corporate headquarters to Cork, Ireland, where Tyco is already based. Johnson called the merger a chance for both companies to leverage the emerging home products market. But the move conveniently saves the new company $150 million a year in U.S. taxes. That’s because Ireland has a corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent, while Johnson Controls paid a rate of about 19 percent in the U.S. last year. It’s a maneuver that economists have dubbed an “...

Ryan Visits Racine

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan visits one of the most economically depressed towns in Wisconsin, and residents there let him know what they think of his budget plan.

House Budget Chair Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, who earlier this month introduced a budget plan that would slash government spending and dismantle the social safety net, uses sinister tones to warn of our country's trajectory if we fail to enact it. He speaks "of a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency." The boyishly handsome Ryan, 41, had the good sense to avoid his insulting hammock imagery when addressing an audience of 600 Friday afternoon in Racine, Wisconsin. The town leads the state in unemployment with a rate of 14.1 percent, and well-paying jobs have declined for years. During the congressional recess Ryan and other representatives from around the country have been on a tour of town hall meetings across their districts. Many of the attendees have been hostile to the Congress members who voted for Ryan's budget proposal. What's different for Ryan, though, is that the...