Trek president calls on Walker to take down ad
John Burke, the president of Trek Bicycle Corp. and the brother of Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, said Thursday that Republican Gov. Scott Walker's latest campaign ad, which references Burke's company, is "absolutely false" and should be taken down.
John Burke spoke to The Associated Press from France making his most public comments yet in the hotly contested race pitting his sister against Walker, a potential 2016 presidential candidate. Burke said he was motivated to speak up following Walker's release of an ad Wednesday that said Mary Burke got rich from a company that sent jobs overseas where women and children are paid as little as $2 an hour.
"When people make blatantly false accusations about a company you've spent your lifetime building and you have 1,800 employees who are proud about what they do every day, that just isn't right," John Burke said.
Trek was founded in Waterloo in the 1970s by John and Mary Burke's father and is now the second-largest bike manufacturer worldwide. Mary Burke worked as an executive at Trek twice, leaving the company in 2004.
John Burke said all decisions about where to locate jobs were his and not his sister's. Mary Burke worked for Trek as the head of its European division from 1990 to 1993 and again from 1995 until 2004, with her most recent job being director of planning and strategic planning.
John Burke said Trek does not employ children at its overseas plants. He said Trek has manufacturing plants in China, Germany and Holland and they all strictly follow local labor laws.
"We produce product in a lot of places and there are different wages for different jobs," he said when asked whether workers at the China plant earned $2 an hour. "We always pay in accordance to labor guidelines and rules and what's the standard wage for the area. We're very concerned for workers' rights and the workers' environment."