OTR Interviews

Wis. Unions' Boycott Threat Against Business Owners: Was It An Isolated Incident By an 'Overzealous' Rep?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 4, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Wisconsin unions are now taking the proverbial lead pipe to businesses. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees sent threatening letters to Wisconsin businesses saying, Support us or face a boycott. But are union members now backpedaling? After word got out about the boycott threats, the union announced that this entire fiasco was the result of overzealousness by a rogue field rep.

So what's it like to be bullied by a union? And how rough was it? Let's ask local Wisconsin business owners. Dawn Bobo is the owner of the Village Dollar Store and Tiger Heberling is co-owner of Tigerland and Maximum Security. They join us both live from Madison.

Good evening, both of you. Tiger, tell me first, what happened to you?

TIGER HEBERLING, UNION GROVE BUSINESS OWNER: What happened to me is we were approached about three weeks ago and -- by some union members and they actually had some signs. We were asked if we would display the signs. And I was on the phone with a customer at that time. And my partner, Ron, said that, Well, we would rather remain neutral. So what he did is sent them on their way and said, No, thank you. Within probably about two hours later, we were actually being protested, people going up and down the street, yelling, oh, "Shame, shame, shame," is what I heard mostly coming out of their mouths.

VAN SUSTEREN: And Dawn, what happened with you, or what was your experience?

DAWN BOBO, UNION GROVE BUSINESS OWNER: Well, my experience started when a group of women came in with a union poster asking me to support workers' rights. And I asked them to respect my position, that I'm a new business and that I need to remain neutral in this issue. And they thanked me and said that was fine, and they left.

VAN SUSTEREN: And was that the last you heard of them, Dawn -- or heard from anyone, Dawn, or not?

BOBO: That was the last I heard until this Tuesday, when I received a letter from a local union person telling me that if I don't accept the sign, they would publicly boycott my store.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I have a copy of this letter from the field rep, Jim Parrott. And he says -- I'll read part of it just in case there's any question. Says, "Failure to do so" -- that would be required taking a sign -- "Failure to do so would leave us no choice but do a public boycott of your business. And sorry, neutral means no to those who work for the largest employer in the area and our union members."

Tiger, tell me, did you ever get involved one way or the other in this whole dispute?

HEBERLING: No, I didn't. We mainly wanted to stay right down the center because -- for business-wise, you really can't take left or I can't take a right. I've got quite a few customers that are far left and I have quite a few customers that are far right. So if -- like, if you bring up the politics when you got somebody on the far left or far right, my favorite saying is, "Hey, how about those Packers?"

(LAUGHTER)

VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed. How about those? They did pretty well, too, I might add, this year. How about those Packers?

HEBERLING: You bet they did.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dawn, do you know others who have received letters or have heard from the unions?

BOBO: Yes, many of the businesses in town received the letters. And they were -- they actually put out another letter to thank people who did support them by taking a sign. And those -- that list was inaccurate because many of the people did not take a sign, and they were put on the list as supporting their cause when they actually didn't.

VAN SUSTEREN: Tiger, has this affected your business at all?

BOBO: Well, I've had people from all over the country purchasing through their credit card and making donations to shelters, schools, churches. I've had people come from Illinois and drive from downtown Chicago. The lines have been going through the store. It's like Christmas on my sales register. I have people driving five hours from Rheinlander coming down to my store to shop.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's great. Sounds like it's almost a stimulus bill that you got this letter and had these issues. Thank you both. Appreciate you joining us.

HEBERLING: Thank you, Greta.

BOBO: Thank you very much.