Friday, January 13, 2012

Wisconsin Worker Sent Home For Wearing Union Shirt to Work

(Image from Flickr, by Buschap)
An employee of the Lincoln Hills School in Irma, Wisconsin, was sent home without pay last week for wearing a union t-shirt on the job, according to the Waussau Daily Herald. The employee was Ron McAllister, a youth counselor, who was wearing a t-shirt and jacket with an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) logo.

The state Department of Corrections, which oversees the school, opened an investigation into the incident this week and sent a memo to staff members saying that workers are permitted to wear union clothing, despite the fact that their administrators sent a worker home for doing so. Not surprisingly, AFSCME is mistrustful of the DOC and continued with a planned demonstration against the DOC and union-busting governor Scott Walker on Monday. More than 70 people attended the protest outside Lincoln Hills School. AFSCME believes that Lincoln Hills Superintendent Paul Westerhaus sent McAllister home on Walker's behalf. McAllister also happens to be president of AFSCME Council 24.

No Unions Allowed
It was not just McAllister’s shirt that was offensive to management. Last week, he found that someone had gone through his office and removed an AFSCME sign, and he said a supervisor told him that union signs and union clothing were not allowed. So he removed his union jacket and shirt and started to unbutton his pants to remove his “union” underwear, before being sent home.

McAllister may be rekindling an old protest tactic made popular by the Doukhobors, a Russian Christian pacifist sect, many of who migrated to Western Canada in the 19th century (with the help of Tolstoy, Quakers and Peter Kropotkin), who have protested in the nude since the early 20th century. Canada even passed anti-nudity laws in response to the Doukhobors and have arrested hundreds of them for violating this law.

Doukhobors marching nude in Langham, Saskatchewan, Canada, 1903 (from Wikipedia)
Do As The Doukhobors Do
There’s a new tactic to use, my dear
If you have a protest on one wants to hear,
Just attend a rally where the b ig shots meet
Strip to your hide and walk down the street.
Way up in Canada, Doukhobor lads
Were sent to public schools disapproved of by their dads, So the Doukhobor mamas said “That’s enough”
And they went to the meeting in the buff.

Do as the Doukhobors do, honey,
Do as the Doukhobors do.
If public policy gets on your nerves
And no one pays attention to you
Throw away your dresses and your lingerie too,
And do as the Doukhobors do.

Our women hold meetings to stop atom tests,
They’re not afraid of billy clubs, cops and arrests,
They sign those petitions ‘til they’re sad in the face
And still they seem to be getting no place.
The little boat EVERYMAN couldn’t leave port,
Bomb tests continue of every sort
We’ve got to do something that’s wild and new,
And do as the Doukhobors do.


Of course, down in Cannes on the coast of France,
You’d get no attention minus bras and pants,
If you’d hit the beach in a grin or less,
They’d think you had on last year’s bathing dress.
But up there in Canada at twenty below
People keep covered from head to toe.
Kennedy would send a cup of coffee or two
If we did as the Doukhobors do.

(Malvina Reynolds, 1962).

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