Petty Harassment in Walker's Wisconsin
Generally, or so I've heard, once the thief has your money, they leave you alone and run off. Because supposedly, it's all about the money. No real need to kick someone in the teeth as well...or so you might think.
But here in Scott Walker's Wisconsin, where state employee unions were assaulted and destroyed at the stroke of pen, supposedly just to save taxpayer's dollars, metaphorically kicking a union man in the head once you've already picked his pocket is not only fun, it's necessary for the survival of the regime. Please read on for the latest example of the petty, small-minded harassment that Scotty's bully boys are inflicting on public servants.
Ron McAllister, an employee at Lincoln Hills School in Irma, Wisconsin, was sent home from work yesterday for inappropriate dress. Lincoln Hills School is a juvenile detention facility that's part of the state Department of Corrections. Obviously, troubled youths cannot be subjected to inappropriate or provocative material, including objectionable clothing.
So by now you're probably wondering what appalling sartorial decision Mr. McAllister made that caused the outcry and uproar at his place of employment.
He wore an AFSCME shirt.
Of course, the kids at the facility wouldn't have cared. Union shirts are seldom linked to prison riots. The problem wasn't the kids. The problem was a group of people even more dangerous, more given to irrational hysteria, and frankly, more prone to sociopathy. I'm speaking, of course, of Scott Walker's thin-skinned, dictatorial political appointees 170 miles to the south in Madison.
You see, Ron McAllister isn't merely an employee at Lincoln Hills. He's the president of Local 6 of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, AFSCME Council 24, AFL-CIO. So to weasly little tyrants and their fascist boss in Madison, he represents an existential threat to....ummm....something that must be really important yet really fragile if it can all be annihilated by a shirt.
Here's a letter sent by Martin Beil, Executive Director of WSEU-Council 24, describing the situation from the union's perspective:
Late this morning (01/05) Ron McAllister, president of Local 6(Lincoln Hills School) and Council Executive Board member was escorted out of the institution because he refused to take off his AFSCME shirt. The superintendant ordered that he go home w/o pay. All of this occurred after the Administration of LHS ordered that the Union Bulletin Boards be removed and management went through his office taking AFSCME signs and copies of the local agreement. Juvenile Corrections has no dress or uniform code except that shirts can not have drug, alcohol or sexual messages. It would appear that DOC wants to try and intimidate employees who don’t cave to their anti worker/anti union antics. Well I believe they picked the wrong person and the wrong place. All of us need to stand up and outwardly send a message that we aren’t going to put up with this kind of treatment. On Monday, January 9th there will be an picket line set up at the entrance to Lincoln Hills School, W4380 Copper Lake Road, Irma, Wisconsin, at twelve o clock ,noon. We would encourage all of you and others to join us Monday at Lincoln Hills and stand behind Brother McAllister. Some of you may want to send a message of concern to the Superintendant there. His name is Paul Westerhaus and his e-mail is [email protected] . It’s interesting that all of these managers want to become little Scott Walkers. I guess that’s what merit pay is all about. That is unacceptable and we need to stand up.
But wait, there's more! When the union local pushed back, when phone calls were made asking for justification of the sudden panic about the killer shirt, Paul Westerhaus, superintendent at Lincoln Hills, apparently decided to tell the truth as to who was behind the new policy. He threw his superior under the bus. Well done, Mr. Westerhaus, and thanks for confirming what everyone already pretty much knew.
Here's part of an email from another union officer, intended as a follow-up to the above-quoted initial email from Martin Beil:
Mr. Westerhaus just called and confirmed that any employee who reports to work in an AFSCME shirt will be ordered to remove the shirt; if they refuse they may be subjected to discipline. When asked if a dress code existed prohibiting the shirts, the answer was no. This was the instruction he received from DOC Central Office.
Who is DOC Central Office receiving instruction from? OSER, the Office of State Employment Relations. And who directs OSER? DOA, the Department of Administration. And who is the Secretary of DOA? Mike Huebsch a Republican Party politician and former legislator.
He served in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1995 through 2011. From 2007-2009, he served as Speaker of the Assembly. Huebsch resigned from the Assembly after Governor-elect Scott Walker appointed Huebsch Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Administration.
I'm not sure whether to feel pleased that everything we were sure we knew about Walker has been shown to be true, or whether I should feel nauseated that everything we were sure we knew about Walker has been proven true. I guess my feelings tend toward the latter.
So there it is. Any more questions as to why something that truly threatens the Walker regime, the petition drive, is greeted with such rabid and wild-eyed fury by the wingnuts? Seriously, if they go this bat-sh!t crazy about one guy wearing one shirt at one state facility, it's suddenly opens a door into the bottomless pit of madness that governs everything about them, doesn't it?
Just to expand on an important point in the letter from union executive director Martin Beil. We have an opportunity to push back against this latest bit almost North Korean-like paranoia by the Dear Weasel. Those of us who can make it should consider joining the picket line at noon on Monday, January 9 at Lincoln Hills School, W4380 Copper Lake Road, Irma, Wisconsin. Irma is about 170 miles due north of Madison, and about 200 miles east of St. Paul, Minnesota. It's an easy ride from Madison in particular: straight north on what used to be US 51, currently called I-39. Irma is just south of Tomahawk and just north of Merrill. Yeah, I know it's up north, and I know it's January, but we're having a mild winter so far so don't let Mother Nature dissuade you from throwing a metaphorical iceball at Scott Walker's ass.
Anyway, one more week of collecting signatures. Hopefully just a few short months until the decriminalization of innocuous shirts. Yikes.