Epic Fail: Union Boycott of 9-11 Tribute Backfires... Badly
In the annals of tactical blunders, the decision by the Racine firefighters union to not support a 9-11 Memorial may become the stuff of legends. At a time when the unions and the Democrats are going all-in in defense of public employee unionism, the thuggish boycott displayed unionism in the worst, ugliest possible light.
Racine - Patriotism trumped politics in Racine on Monday as a commemorative Sept. 11 float that had been mired in controversy in the last week drew an enthusiastic welcome from the city's Fourth of July parade-goers.
Spectators grew silent, then rushed to their feet and applauded as Oak Creek firefighter Matt Gorniak drove the float - a re-enactment of the famous scene in which firefighters erected an American flag on the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center - down Main St.
"I was in tears," said Janet Exner of Racine, who was decked out in a red-white-and-blue neck scarf for the occasion. "It was incredible."
Gorniak wasn't sure what to expect after the float was drawn into the state's political debate over the role of labor unions in government.
The Racine firefighters union had declined to support or walk with the float after it was learned that Gorniak, who supports Gov. Scott Walker's plan to limit collective bargaining for most government unions, had relinquished his membership in the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin.
Most parade-goers were oblivious to the controversy on Monday, and even after hearing about it, said they didn't care.
"This is about solidarity, not about who's in a union and who's not," said Erich Broemser, who had come to the parade with his family, including his wife, who belongs to a state union.
"This was a catastrophe that brought this country together," he said. "This isn't the place for that."