5 things to know about Obama's Labor Day visit to Wisconsin

  • Article by: M.L. JOHNSON , Associated Press
  • Updated: September 1, 2014 - 1:10 AM

MILWAUKEE — President Barack Obama will speak to union members and others Monday in Milwaukee. Here are five things to know about his visit:

1. IT'S A PARTY: The president is speaking at about 2 p.m. at LaborFest, a festival complete with musical acts, a classic car show, bingo and lots of fried food. The festival runs from noon to 5 p.m. and is preceded by an 11 a.m. parade in downtown Milwaukee. LaborFest is held on 75-acre festival grounds along the shore of Lake Michigan.

2. REWIND AND REPEAT: Monday marks Obama's second appearance at LaborFest. He spoke there in 2010, months before Republican Gov. Scott Walker set off fervent protests with his proposal to eliminate most public employees' union rights. Anger over Walker's signature legislation lingers in heavily Democratic Milwaukee.

3. THE PRESIDENT'S POPULARITY HAS WANED: Obama won Wisconsin in 2008 and 2012, but his popularity is declining. A Marquette Law School poll released Wednesday put his approval rating at 49 percent statewide. An earlier law school poll found the president's approval rating was much higher in Milwaukee than statewide — 71 percent to 47 percent in July 2013.

4. UNION MEMBERSHIP IS FALLING TOO: About 15 percent of private and public sector workers in Wisconsin were represented by unions during Obama's last visit in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2013, union membership was about 13 percent as Walker's union law took effect and public employees dropped out. The national average is 12.4 percent.

5. WALKER WILL GREET HIM, BURKE WON'T SHARE STAGE: The governor changed plans with his family so he could greet Obama at General Mitchell International Airport. The two also met there in January, discussing a propane shortage before Obama left to give a speech in Waukesha and Walker returned to Madison. Walker's Democratic challenger Mary Burke is meeting privately with Obama, but won't share the stage.

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