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Union: There is no Union Grove boycott of businesses

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Threatened boycott
Numerous Union Grove businesses have been threatened with "public boycotts" by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. According to the letter businesses received Tuesday, they will be targeted for declining to display a sign stating, "This business supports workers rights," with an AFSCME logo. R & R Pizza, 1015 Main St. displays one of the signs in the front window of the business Wednesday March 30, 2011. / Mark Hertzberg

UNION GROVE - There will be no boycott of businesses in the village that do not put out signs saying they support "workers rights."

Marty Beil, executive director of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 24, said there is no boycott in an email Friday.

"There was some unfortunate overzealousness in the field," the email read. "We have made clear all along that we see small business as a partner and ally in getting Wisconsin back to work."

The statement comes in the wake of a letter sent Tuesday to many Union Grove businesses from AFSCME Council 24 Field Rep. Jim Parrett threatening to boycott those that declined to display signs supporting "workers rights."

Parrett confirmed in an email Friday afternoon saying only that there is no boycott and referring further questions to Beil. It was not clear Friday whether Parrett was acting of his own accord or how the boycott threat came about.

Parrett has not otherwise responded to requests for interviews and Beil and other Council 24 leaders did not return requests for comment Friday.

Beil's brief statement goes on to say small business owners are alongside public workers and other citizens working to demand the governor and state Legislature "stop playing politics and start putting Wisconsin first."

The county as well as the state has been in uproar ever since Gov. Scott Walker proposed nearly stripping all collective bargaining rights from most public employees. That collective bargaining law is on hold as the legality and implementation of the law is duked out in Madison.

Parrett's letter has garnered national attention, eliciting a Wall Street Journal editorial that called it "union thuggery."

Indeed the boycott threat did not appear to have the intended effect - only a couple Main Street businesses were spotted sporting the AFSCME sign on Wednesday - but rather sparked the opposite, drawing support from the community and even those around the country.

A couple from Paradise, Texas, reportedly called Roseanne's Floral on Friday to ask: Do you have a union sign out?

The couple wanted to send flowers to a local business to show their support in lieu of the boycott threats, said Roseanne Fohr, owner of the shop at 1818 S. Colony Ave.

"Our stance is we choose not to choose," Fohr said the caller was told. "We're a business and my political views are personal."

So the couple ordered, the shop picked a business where it would be highly visible per their wishes and the arrangement of carnations, lilies and alstroemerias was sent to Subway, 1340 Highway 11, with a card that said: "We pray for all of you in Wisconsin and hope this puts a smile on your face."

Mario Denoto, owner of the Subway, plans to send them a thank-you note.

"I was shocked that people have heard about Union Grove all the way from Texas," he said.


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