Milwaukee factory workers share safety fears as GOP pushes to shield businesses from COVID-19 lawsuits — 8/5/20

A roundup of top news and information about Wisconsin’s response to the coronavirus

Wisconsin Watch is a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on government integrity and quality of life issues, and we always provide our news for free.

You can read all of our coronavirus/COVID-19 coverage by signing up for our Wisconsin COVID-19 Update newsletter, and please consider becoming a member to support our nonprofit journalism. 

Today we highlight a story by CBS News’ Nancy Cordez, who investigates safety complaints from workers at Briggs & Stratton in Milwaukee. The family of 45-year-old Mike Jackson alleges he died of COVID-19 after working a mandatory overtime shift under unsafe conditions at the engine factory. 

“Six current Briggs & Stratton workers told CBS News the company required them to work face to face on the assembly line and that managers rarely wore masks,” Cordez reports. “In mid-April, a month before his death, Jackson and his co-workers walked off the line to protest the lack of safety equipment but say that brought little change. Briggs & Stratton only began requiring its employees to wear masks this week due to a statewide mandate in Wisconsin.”

Briggs & Stratton told CBS News: “We do not force anyone to come to work if they aren’t feeling well … nor do we penalize them.”

The concerns come as Senate Republicans are pushing legislation in Congress that would shield employers from liability if workers or customers are exposed to the coronavirus.

Top Stories

Steve Apps / Wisconsin Watch

An auditorium on Epic’s Verona campus, where over 9,000 employees are expected to start returning to work starting next week.

Factory worker’s death highlights debate over GOP-backed coronavirus liability shieldCBS News 

Gov. Tony Evers activates National Guard to assist as poll workers for next week’s primaryWisconsin State Journal 

Joe Biden won’t travel to Milwaukee for 2020 DNC because of coronavirus concernsMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

After record-setting COVID-19 cases in July, more Wisconsin schools opt for virtual learningWPR 

‘It’s getting better’: Green Bay businesses adapt to face mask mandate as customer compliance grows — Green Bay Press Gazette

Epic employees say coronavirus concerns met with retaliation, demotionsThe Cap Times 

Wisconsin increases testing capacity as COVID-19 cases rise, school year approachesThe Cap Times 

Helbachs could lose its food and drink license for defying mask orderWisconsin State Journal

What are we missing? And how are you coping? Help us provide critical information and accountability by filling out this form or emailing us at

[ad number=”1″]

Housing trouble? 

Are you worried about losing your home or apartment because of the pandemic? Share your experience with News414, Wisconsin Watch’s service journalism collaboration with Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and Outlier media. Click here for details.


“The thing that’s maddening is country after country and state after state have shown us how we can contain the virus … It’s not like we don’t know what works. We do.”

Dr. Jonathan Quick of the Duke Global Health Institute, according to the Associated Press 

“So, we hope that this is used as an educational opportunity and that people are encouraged to do the right thing and to wear a face covering to help slow the spread … It doesn’t necessarily have to come down to enforcement in order to get people to do the right thing.”

Gov. Tony Evers, responding to questions about sheriffs who refuse to enforce his statewide mask mandate, as reported by WPR

Data to note

Here are the latest visualizations of COVID-19 cases and deaths from our partners at WisContext.

Resilient Wisconsin

People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us:

Menomonee Falls mom turning two-bedroom apartment into small classroom for daughter, friendsWTMJ-TV

Access to some stories listed in the Wisconsin COVID-19 Update may be limited to subscribers of the news organizations that produced them. We urge our readers to consider supporting these important news outlets by subscribing.

Comments are closed.