Letter: Candidate Wants Return to ‘Just Cause’ Protections for City Workers
To the Editor-
What kind of boss would you be? The kind who treats employees with suspicion, or a fair-minded leader who draws their best work from them? The question isn’t as hypothetical as it seems, because employees of the City of Stevens Point work for all of us, and the city council has been debating how they should be treated.
The issue before the council is the grounds on which city workers can be terminated. Actually the question is whether the city even needs a reason to fire members of its staff. As the law currently stands, the people who work for us are employed on an at-will basis—a labor law framework that is tilted completely to the advantage of employers.
The rules of at-will employment give bosses the ability to fire someone for any reason that isn’t illegal, such as discrimination. Politically speaking, it is part of a longstanding right wing agenda to give employers a totally free hand, without having to worry about labor rights. It was a predecessor of Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, who famously said that all politics is local. Here we have an issue about the erosion of workers’ rights that is playing out in the Stevens Point Common Council and asking us what kinds of bosses we want to be.
The council has been considering adopting a higher standard for firing a city worker that simply requires termination to be based on a valid reason. It would make us fair-minded bosses and protect our employees against being fired arbitrarily. When a supervisor needs to fire someone, s/he would need grounds for doing so—a violation of the law, work rules, or ethics or poor performance. When the issue was discussed in the council’s personnel committee last Monday, (Mayor) Mike Wiza said he wanted the change “to make sure that all of the employees feel like they can be treated fairly.”
Personally I have been surprised this move is even controversial. And I’ve been especially disappointed that my own council representative, Alderwoman Denise Mrozek of District 2, is opposed to these kind of basic protections for our employees. To me it shows how little she thinks of the city staff.
As I say, we are getting a glimpse of the right wing agenda right here in our local government. Recently I announced that I am running against Ms. Mrozek in April to represent District 2 because issues like this don’t reflect our values. I look forward to speaking with our neighbors about this and other issues.
David Shorr, Candidate, District 2 Representative