If you haven't noticed, the Cleveland Indians are pro-sin tax and pro-Issue 7, which is entirely predictable and entirely within the team's rights. The Indians can plaster "Keep Cleveland Strong" behind home plate for every fan at the game or watching on TV to see, and Mark Shapiro can give talks to the assembled Cleveland business community and talk about the easy choice to vote yes.
But Edward Loomis, a former usher for the Cleveland Indians, says that the team's campaign to get voters on its side also includes mandatory pro-Issue 7 stickers that must be worn by employees and that his refusal to wear the pro-sin tax gear led to his dismissal from his job.
Loomis, who is 27, worked for the Tribe in the premium seating area since last Spring. He was all set for year two with the Indians when a little stomach bug snuck up on him just prior to the home opener. He emailed his supervisor and let her know he would probably not be available for that first three-game stretch. His illness cleared up sooner than expected and he arrived on April 4, ready to work. His supervisor then instructed him that, although he wasn't on the schedule, to pencil himself in. He did so and attended the regular pre-game meeting.
It was there the ushers received the usual agendas for the game and some paperwork. But this year, the meeting also included discussion of the "Yes on Issue 7" sticker which, the supervisor said, was mandatory with the uniform. You will wear this, or you will go home.
"I had started peeling it off," says Loomis, "but once the meeting started, it was said to be mandatory."
Loomis informed his supervisor later via email that he was uncomfortable wearing the sticker. That evening he wrote:
Great Opening Day today!
I was a little taken aback that when I first came in today, an Issue 7 Sticker was slapped onto my jacket without any choice in the matter. I usually want to keep my politics and job separate, and for that very personal reason I choose not to wear the Issue 7 Sticker as a mandatory part of my uniform.
Thank You for Your Understanding, and I will see you at tomorrow's game.
"I then came in the next day, on Saturday, and I was not allowed in the stadium. If you're not scheduled, you're told you're not supposed to come in, and that made sense to me, since I had previously called off. I was persistent in asking why though."
Loomis says he had security radio his supervisor twice to ask why he wasn't allowed in and why the previous day's arrangement — penciling his name in on the schedule — wasn't suitable any longer. He had called off, prematurely, but was ready to work.
He subsequently received an email from his supervisor that he was not scheduled to work until further notice pending an investigation about what happened at the gate. Loomis insists that besides being "persistent," he was not violent or threatening, either verbally or physically, that Saturday.
Yesterday, Loomis heard from the organization again: he was fired. A former coworker was not surprised — he told Loomis he had heard he was fired a full week ago.
He has a hunch it had nothing to do with anything except his refusal to wear the "Yes on Issue 7" sticker.
"When I asked [my supervisor] why I was fired and whether it had anything to do with the Issue 7 stuff, all she said was it has nothing to do with the Issue 7 stuff but I don't have to share anything else with you," says Loomis. "She told me if you didn't want to wear it, you didn't have to, which I found strange, because she said it in front of 40 people — you will wear this or you can leave."
For its part, the Indians won't comment on Loomis' dismissal except to say that it had nothing to do with Issue 7 and that wearing the sticker is in fact not mandatory.
"The fact of the matter is his departure as an employee had nothing to do with him not wearing the issue 7 sticker. All employees can voluntarily wear the sticker, but it is not a mandatory element of their uniform," Curtis Danburg, Tribe senior director of communication wrote in an email. "It is not mandatory and I can’t elaborate on the details of the dismissal except for the fact the two aren’t connected."
Someone might want to tell that to some of their employees.