Thursday, March 25, 2004

Free Speech For Highway Workers, continued

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about Michael Gerstenslager, the Ohio highway maintenance worker who displayed a sign with the word "traitor" on a snowplow while helping provide security for President Bush's motorcade. Gerstenlager, a steward with the Ohio Civil Service Employees, AFSCME Local 11, was charged by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) with two work-rule violations and one Ohio Revised Code violation: posting an obscene gesture, the misuse of public equipment and insubordination. He accepted a two-week suspension without pay.

And then there was this other issue:
Peter Wray, a spokesman for the union that represents Gerstenslager - the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association - said he can't explain Gerstenslager's actions but complained that ODOT should never have provided security, at least not without reimbursement from Bush.

"With all the state cutbacks, we can't afford to be providing this type of support," Wray said.

Bush visited Cleveland to promote his economic policies, though his speech featured much of the same material he covers in his campaign speeches.

ODOT spokeswoman Lora Hummer said the state was not reimbursed for its employees' time. She said that the cost was "minimal" and that it is a "patriotic duty" to help. She described the state's involvement in Bush's visit as a "successful mission."
Gag me with a spoon.

Well, someone certainly did their patriotic duty. Maybe Gerstenslager should consider his two week suspension a campaign contribution.

OCSEA has been inundated with letters of support. If you haven't yet, you can send e-mails supporting Gerstenslager to Bruce Wyngaard at OCSEA.