A New York state teachers’ union leader lashed out in a vulgar rant directed at a nonprofit group a day after the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to public-sector unions June 27 in the well-publicized Janus vs. AFSCME case.
“You really are a bitch,” said a woman, who identified herself as Wendy Waczek and a representative of the Teachers’ Association of the Tarrytowns, a public union. The message was left in a voicemail with the nonprofit think tank Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Michigan. “Don’t go there. Trust me, you’re messing with the wrong people.”
Waczek is a teaching assistant and SAT and ACT coordinator in special education at Sleepy Hollow High School in the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns in Westchester County, New York, according to the district’s website.
In the voicemail, Waczek said she was upset about the Mackinac Center’s efforts to inform union members of their new rights after the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus vs. AFSCME. The high court’s decision in the case ended the practice of forcing public sector workers to pay union fees as a condition of employment.
Waczek is secretary of the Teachers’ Association of the Tarrytowns, according to her LinkedIn in page. The union’s public Facebook page contained several posts about the Supreme Court decision in the Janus case. Waczek also posted on Twitter about the case.
“I cannot believe that you sent stuff to my membership … asking us to opt out,” she said in the voicemail. “We’re all union. Union strong.”
Waczek declined to comment on the recording when reached by phone, and did not respond to subsequent emails with questions about the comments she left on the voicemail. Public Schools of the Tarrytowns Superintendent Christopher Borsari said Thursday he had not heard about the incident and declined comment.
The voicemail “sounded like a call from a bully,” said Joe Lehman, president of the Mackinac Center. The message had been left on Lehman’s work voicemail. He called the message “crude,” “personal” and “threatening.”
He said that similar things have happened in previous interactions and that Mackinac Center follows internal procedures for dealing with such incidents.
Lehman said that the Mackinac Center has reached out to tens of thousands of union members nationally and taken calls from many of them to explain their rights in the wake of the Janus decision. He said that the center wants to give members accurate information and help them to exercise their rights.
“There’s hardly anything more American than talking to Americans about their rights,” Lehman said.
He said unions should focus on being the best they can be, and then sell themselves as a good option to members, not as one “to be afraid of.”
Public Schools of the Tarrytowns emphasizes rigor, responsibility and respect, according to its website.