Thursday, June 20, 2013

Of Nepotism and Retaliation

Last week, I told the gentle reader about some mighty fine journalism by Lisa Kaiser of the Shepherd Express in which she reported about the rampant nepotism, cronyism and favoritism happening at the state's Department of Health Services in Milwaukee County.

In a nutshell, due to Scott Walker's Act 10, people in management are able to hire, promote and give raises to their family, friends and associates regardless of who has merited it and who is the better worker. In the Milwaukee Enrollment Services (what used to be the Income Maintenance Program), relatives of managers were promoted after only months on the job and over people with much more skill and ability. Likewise, it wasn't hard work that earned bonuses or raises, but who you knew and/or were related to.

This pattern is still going on. It has been reported that the current training class consists of fourteen people, eleven of whom have some sore of relationship with a person in management, such as a friend or a person from one's church.

To make matters worse, the head of this department, Ed Kamin, had ordered his management team to lean on anyone who filed a complaint about the nepotism.  This brought a strong and swift response from the union. The following is an email sent on May 9th, to Jacquelyn Koeller and Nicole Teasley, members of DHS' Human Resources:
Good Afternoon Jackie and Nicole,

On Tuesday, May 7, 2013, I had communicated with you regarding information I had received beginning on Monday afternoon, May 6, 2013. A number of MilES employees had reported to me that a meeting had been held by Ed Kamin with MilES Supervisory staff, in which the topic of a recent round of Promotional hiring was discussed. It was alleged that Supervisory staff were advised to "watch closely" individuals who had filed complaints/appeals with the State regarding being denied a promotion, and to "lean on them".

This Supervisory Meeting was said to have been held on Friday, May 3, 2013 or on Monday, May 6, 2013. This information came to me from employees both at the Call Center and the Coggs Center. Subsequently, I have received a number of reports in reference to an email that was sent to DHS DL MilES Global by Mr. Kamin on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 9:53am.and also have received hard copies of this communication. The Subject matter is titled "thought'. It asks staff to take a look at an attached poem titled "Nobody's Friend", which begins, "My name is Gossip".

When I spoke to you both on Tuesday, I expressed my concerns relative to what was alleged to have been discussed in a Supervisory Meeting and is now being circulated, discussed, and has been reported to the Union. If this is true, this information obviously leaked by Management only serves to further decimate morale and the unrest brought about by Management's promotional hiring decisions. Individuals who disagree with those hiring decisions are following the State process available to them to appeal and receive recourse. I am named as the Employee Representative on a number of those appeals. Additionally, if this action is being pursued by MilES Supervisory staff, it would violate Wisconsin State Statutes, Chapter 230-State Employment Relations-Subchapter 1-Section 230.83-Retaliatory action prohibited (1) and the Union would demand that DHS-MilES immediately cease and desist.

The Union, AFSCME, District Council 48 and Local 594 do hereby request that you
investigate these serious allegations and advise the Department if true, what is contained in the State Statutes and what the consequences of any violations would be. I have advised the affected employees as to how to proceed, and if the Union becomes aware of the alleged advice given to MilES Management staff being implemented or followed through with, the Union will assist the employees with any complaints to compel enforcement of the State Statutes, or any other action deemed necessary by the Union to aid and protect its members. Our scanner is currently down, but if you would like a copy of the email with the Gossip poem, please advise and provide me with a fax number, and I will forward to you as soon as possible. Thank you for your consideration and assistance in this matter.

David Eisner
Contract Administrator, District Council 48
President, AFSCME, Local 594
Ms. Koeller responded the next day with acknowledgement of receiving the email and a voicemail from Mr. Eisner.

However, she responded again eleven days later, on May 21st, again acknowledging the email and stating that DHS would look into it and take "appropriate action."

It has been reported that as much as the supervisors had been harassing the workers after Kamin's meeting with them, they have done a complete 180 and appear to have ceased their bullying tactics.

Unfortunately, it looks as if there is nothing that can be done at this time about the nepotism and cronyism, thanks to Walker's Act 10.  Is it any wonder why he is so anxious to get it in front of Rubber Stamp Prosser and the other corporate-controlled Supreme Court Justices?  He is afraid of the unions getting any sort of foothold in their fight to restore workers rights.


  1. THis has nothing to do with Act 10 at all. The simple fact is that these sort of practices have been going on long before Act 10 came into effect. Where was the Union then? Things are getting to the point where workers are reaching their tipping point and that is why this is news now. If you think Act 10 is the cause of it then you clearly have no clue about what goes on with the workers you represent.

  2. The point is not how long this has been going on but it is not helping to allow this dangerous actions to keep going. Since the State has taken over one must ask, " Have the problems here gotten any better?" As a former worker there my concern was for the applicate and then the treatment of the worker. Policy should be reviewed for injustices of these allergations and modified. However, where was the Union on these issues prior to these actions. Proactivism vs Reactivism who's wrong or who's right in the end will the client be happy?

  3. The only way to stop the corruption is to replace all of the management. You have to remove the disease in order to heal the rest of the body.