For over a week, I spotted countless anti-Walker T-shirts in Madison. Protesters scribbled angry phrases on white cotton and lampooned the Wisconsin governor with ironed-on parodies. But when one student wore a pro-Walker shirt to school last week, a teacher/labor leader attempted to intimidate the local business that produced the garment. It’s a chilling story:
B&D Embroidery & Screen Printing in Two Rivers made the shirt for the student on request, said Bridget VanGinkel, owner of the business with her husband, David. The shirt says “Scott Walker My Hero!” on the front and “He’s Got Nads!” on the back.
On Feb. 24, VanGinkel said the business received what they perceived as a veiled threat of a boycott in an e-mail from Wes Glenna, president of the TREA and chairman of the technical education department at the high school.
Bridget VanGinkel forwarded to the Herald Times Reporter Glenna’s e-mail, sent from his school e-mail address after 10 p.m. It said:
“I was recently informed that you have plans to print pro-Walker shirts for some of the students in the Two Rivers School system. After checking out your website, I noticed that a great deal of your business comes from providing apparel to the Two Rivers, Manitowoc, and Mishicot school systems. I, really, don’t know what you’re thinking of.
“We, all, greatly appreciate the fact that you established your business in our community. However, have you taken the time to figure out how your recent decision could result in the loss of profits to your business?”
It was signed Wes Glenna, President, Two Rivers Education Association.
Glenna also sent the e-mail to all members of the teachers union in the Two Rivers district, VanGinkel said.
The T-shirt shop owner fired right back at the pushy educator:
David VanGinkel sent to Glenna an e-mail reply the next day. It said, in part:
“If you, or the teachers union were to come in here and order a Pro-Union, or Anti-Walker shirt, and wanted to get some for your friends, I would do the exact same thing for you. That is what I am in business to do.
“I am proud of all the students standing up in this crisis. Doesn’t matter which side they choose to support. I commend them all for educating themselves, and standing up for what they personally believe in. It’s been ‘ok’ for the teachers to voice their opinions, and it’s ‘ok’ for the students to do the same. That is what this country is all about.
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