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Union VP Says Sheriff Has It in for Him

MILWAUKEE (CN) - A sheriff's union officer claims Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke called him a "fucking terrorist" for being in the union, and told him he should quit the union because "the public hates unions right now and they love me."

In his federal complaint, Sgt. Richard Graber claims Clarke violated the sheriff's employees' collective bargaining agreement's overtime rules, and when he complained, Clarke said he didn't care about the union's "fucking contract."

Graber has served as vice president of the Milwaukee Deputy Sheriff's Association since 2007. He claims Sheriff Clarke violated his constitutional rights and Wisconsin Chapter 164, the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights, which protects the right "to engage in political activity without recrimination or discrimination."

Graber says unionized deputies were regularly scheduled to patrol the O'Donnell Park parking garage, which collapsed and killed a 15-year-old boy in the summer of 2010.

He claims officers were given little or no notice, sometimes "having only four to five hours to rest" before returning for another shift. But according to their collective bargaining agreement, when overtime is required, "the least senior employee in the classification in the work unit shall be required to work the overtime assignment," Graber says.

Graber says a captain asked him to waive the agreement's overtime requirements, but he refused. Later that day, he says, he was called into Clarke's office for a meeting with Clarke and Sheriff's Inspector Edward Bailey, also a defendant.

Graber says the two-hour meeting started with Clarke asking him who the head of the Sheriff's Department is. When Graber replied that Clarke was in charge, Clarke told him he didn't "give a fuck" about what Graber thinks.

Graber says Clarke told him, "'When a captain calls and requests resources, he is to be given the resources,'" he said.

Graber said he never refused to provide resources; he refused to waive the collective bargaining agreement overtime provisions. Whereupon, "Sheriff Clarke then stood up in his chair and yelled at Graber, 'I've got a dead child at the lake front and you are questioning mandatory overtime, you sick fuck!' ... Sheriff Clarke when on to state that he had a job to do and he doesn't care about 'our fucking contract.'"

He claims Clarke added, "'They are cops and should expect to work long hours and should always have a contingency plan in place for daycare, etc.'" and that Clarke "does not care about deputy sheriffs being inconvenienced, they are cops and should be told to 'suck it up' when they come to the Association or Graber for assistance."

Graber claims Clarke called him a "fucker" and a "motherfucker" throughout the meeting, and when he asked the sheriff he was calling him names, Clarke said, "'Because you're a fucker, just like the rest of them.'"

The complaint continues: "Graber responded, 'Well, you don't know me very well then, Sheriff.'

"Upon information and belief, Sheriff Clarke then responded: 'I don't want to know you, I want to get rid of you. I want your resignation.' Sheriff Clarke then told Graber that he was the type of waste the Sheriff's Office was trying to 'get rid of.'"

Clarke also told him "that he knows Graber, he knows Graber's rhetoric, he knows 'his kind' ..."

Graber says Clarke then lambasted him for speaking on behalf of the union to the County Board of Supervisors at a public meeting. "Sheriff Clarke told Graber that he needed to support the Sheriff's Office, but instead had 'fucked him in the ass again.'

"Upon information and belief, Sheriff Clarke told Graber that he should end his participation in the Association because the sheriff was winning in the public's eye and the union was losing. Upon information and belief, Sheriff Clarke stated, 'The public hates unions right now and they love me.'"

Graber claims that Clarke has issued him five disciplinary suspensions, and that the union successfully challenged four of them and the fifth is pending before the county's personnel review board.

Graber claims the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission has found that Clarke retaliated against him and violated several statutory provisions, including 111.70(3)(a)3 and 111.70(3)(a)1 by "interfering, restraining, and coercing Graber in the exercise of his right to engage in lawful, concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining with the Association."

Graber seeks compensatory and punitive damages for constitutional and state law violations, and for emotional pain and suffering and harm to his reputation.

He is represented by Christopher MacGillis with MacGillis Wiemer of Wauwatosa.


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