The owner of a cooler decorated with a Ku Klux Klan logo and Confederate flag spotted recently on a public job site in Milwaukee has been fired by his employer.
Officials in the city’s Department of Public Works were made aware of the photo on Friday when an image of it was posted to Facebook. The photograph was taken at a construction site near the corner of 25th and Wells streets, where Rubicon-based American Sewer Services is working on a more-than $800,000 sewer contract for the city.
The contractor announced on Monday afternoon the worker had been fired and said the stickers displayed on the cooler “in no way represents the feelings of American Sewer Services nor our diverse group of employees.”
“American Sewer Services has had an excellent relationship with the City of Milwaukee for over 30 years,” the statement continues. “We look forward to working with city leaders to help restore their trust in us
Sandy Rusch Walton, a spokeswoman for DPW, called the stickers “offensive” in an email on Friday.
“If, in fact, the cooler with the stickers belongs to an individual working on a City contract, it would be best if the individual works someplace other than the City of Milwaukee,” she said. “DPW continues to investigate this matter.”
The photo became public about a week after outrage was stirred among city officials by another photo showing three construction workers carrying handguns at a public-job site. That image was taken in late November at a site near the corner of North 19th and West Meinecke streets.
The workers pictured, all employees of American Sewer Services, were either fired or laid off.
Responding to the photo, city aldermen said they would back legislation that would ban contractors from allowing workers to carry firearms while on the clock. Taking matters a step further, some even said the city should consider enlisting in-house employees, rather than contractors, for public projects.
Alderman Tony Zielinski on Monday deemed the picture of the cooler and its stickers “horrific,” and said that Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban should review all DPW work that has been outsourced to contractors in the past two decades. He asked that Korban report his findings to the Common Council within 30 days.
“I am very concerned that the workers working on projects in the city no longer reflect the population of the community they are serving,” said Zielinski, who is chairman of the city’s Licenses Committee and recently announced he was running for mayor in 2020.
Zielsinki added the image has “shown me there is some evidence to be very concerned about who we have performing taxpayer-funded city work in our neighborhoods.”
American Sewer Services said it is responding to the recent outrages by revising its internal policies.Follow @alexzank