On Monday, in addition to discussing formalization of the employee handbook, the Personnel and Finance Committee of the Dane County Board of Supervisors heard disturbing testimony from Neil Rainford, Staff Representative of AFSCME Council 32.
In early August 2022, the committee hired former Dane County Circuit Court Judge Valarie Bailey-Rihn to investigate charges directed toward managers at the Henry Vilas Zoo, which included allegations against managers of racism, anti-union activity, retaliation against whistleblowers, unequal discipline, and creating a hostile work environment.
Erik Anderson, a veteran zookeeper of over 20 years experience who was described by Rainford on Monday as a “long-time activist,” the head of the unit’s Employee Relations Group, or ERG, and President of AFSCME Local 65, had come under particularly intense scrutiny by county management.
The judge’s report, issued in November, largely cleared managers of the worst employee relations charges, noting that, although investigations of workers had been intense, the county had taken no actual disciplinary measures against workers such as Anderson who had brought complaints. At Monday’s meeting, Rainford described what happened next.
To Rainford, the conclusion is clear.
Now, Rainford alleges, county managers are targeting Anderson for his cooperative role in the judge’s investigation, with the county claiming that the union rep had improper access to confidential documents.
However, Dane County Human Resources Director Kabura Mukasa told the committee that this was not country board business.
To Rainford, however, the need for County Board intervention is clear.
That was Neil Rainford, Staff Representative of AFSCME Council 32, speaking Monday at a public meeting of the Personnel and Finance Committee of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, where he outlined alleged ongoing retaliatory actions by county managers against AFSCME Local 65 President Erik Anderson.
Report by Greg Geboski. Photo by Saúl Bucio on Unsplash. Web production by Anyu Li.