Capitol Chaos: Union Upset Over Letter
By Jay Olstad
UNION GROVE - Local union members apologized to business owners Thursday after hearing union leadership threatened to boycott businesses.
The stunning development happened late Thursday afternoon at Village Dollar, where members with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees showed their support to businesses that were targeted.
It all started after Dawn Bobo, owner of Village Dollar in Union Grove, refused to put up a sign supporting AFSCME.
The public union is against Governor Scott Walker's plan to take away most collective bargaining rights for its members.
Bobo didn't want to take sides, fearing she would offend customers.
"I have customers from all walks of life, "she said. "In a tough economy you need everyone here."
But apparently that wasn't good enough for AFSCME Union Rep. Jim Parrett, who sent her a letter that reads in part:
"We'd ask that you reconsider taking a sign and stance to support public employees in this community. Failure to do so will leave us no choice but do a public boycott of your business."
"It rubbed me the wrong way," said customer John Charnon.
He and other customers drove out of their way to shop at Village Dollar Thursday. According to Bobo, business tripled because of it.
Even some local AFSCME union members called the threats "thuggish".
"The statements and threats made by Jim Parrett do not represent everyone in the local, we didn't support it," said Paul Baumester, a member of AFSCME, Local 3777.
He and several other union members shook hands with Bobo Thursday afternoon and apologized to her and other businesses for the threats. They claim they were never consulted about the letters.
Baumester says he's still against Governor Walker's budget proposals, but he believes the threats are exactly the wrong thing to do.
"Right when we think we might be making some headway here, we lose ground in the public eye," he said.
We made several attempts to contact Parrett by phone, but an operator said his voice mail box was full.
And now thanks to his letter, so is Bobo's dollar store, which now has a sign of its own in the window. It reads, "We support Union Grove, not bully tactics."
"I want them to have the rights they're entitled to, but they are not entitled to take mine away," said Bobo when talking about AFSCME.