County workers reminded about political rules
JANESVILLE A memo to Rock County employees reminding them that political activity is banned during working hours was sent this week after a letter supporting incumbent Clerk of Courts Eldred Mielke circulated in his office.
A clerk of courts employee was asking co-workers to sign a letter to the editor supporting Mielke, said Sheila JaDoul, local union president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
A separate clerk of courts employee asked a union representative whether political activity was allowed while working, JaDoul said.
“I think it was just somebody who is a supporter of (Mielke) and who was trying to see who would sign a letter,” JaDoul said. “There is a place to be politically active, but it’s not on county grounds.”
JaDoul said she asked county officials to remind employees about the personnel policy against political activity at work.
“My concern was that there are so many new employees and whether or not they’re aware of this,” she said.
Dave O’Connell, human resources director, and Jeff Kuglitsch, corporation counsel, sent the memo Monday.
“Just a reminder that political activity is not allowed during working hours,” the memo stated. “If you have questions about this policy, please direct them to the HR Department.”
Phil Boutwell, assistant county administrator, said the county has sent similar memos before previous elections. He said this incident isn’t considered a complaint.
Mielke said he didn’t know anything about the letter. Mielke, 73, Milton, is facing Republican challenger Kerry Schlittler, 52, Brodhead, in Tuesday’s election.
No grievance was filed regarding the activity, JaDoul said, and no one has been disciplined.
County employees can participate in political activity during breaks, lunch hours or while off work, JaDoul said.
Political activity is not allowed during working hours to protect employees from feeling pressured to vote a certain way, especially if they work in an office with an elected official in charge, she said.