LINCOLN — A state agency director has apologized for a social media post that referred to the leadership of a state labor union as “communist agitators.”
Trevor Jones, the head of History Nebraska (formerly the State Historical Society), sent a message to employees referring to a July 10 meeting between agency employees and the Nebraska Association of Public Employees. The union represents state workers, including History Nebraska employees.
“Don’t spend your noon hour throwing hands and dustin’ it up with communist agitators,” the post said. “Consider instead spending a peaceful hour at ‘Lunch with Trevor.’ ”
The post, which featured a photo of a 1934 labor riot in Loup City, Nebraska, drew a harsh rebuke from a union official who called it “unprofessional, inappropriate and a prohibited (labor) practice.”
“In my 34 years as a state employee, I’ve never seen the head of a state agency … treat our union with such contempt,” wrote Deb Strudl, chairwoman of NAPE/American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 61. “Your implication that we are communist agitators, violent and unfriendly is without merit and completely false.”
Jones, who was hired in May 2016, issued an apology to employees in an email last week after meeting with union officials.
“The post was offensive to some of our own staff members as well as others outside our organization. Although the post was not intended to offend, it did so,” said the email, which was obtained by The World-Herald.
Jones, in an interview, said his office regularly posts information internally about upcoming meetings but that this one “missed the mark.”
“We certainly didn’t intend to offend anyone,” he said. Jones added that he apologized.
A NAPE official said that the union could have filed a grievance but that it wanted to talk to Jones first and give him a chance to “do the right thing” and apologize.
“We were really disappointed that that got posted but appreciated that he apologized,” said Justin Hubly, the union’s executive director. “I think he was trying to be cute and funny and kind of fell short.”