- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 11, 2014

Four suburban Chicago firefighters were reinstated Wednesday after being sent home for refusing to remove American flags and military stickers from their helmets and lockers.

Maywood Fire Chief Craig Bronaugh had issued a mandate for the removal of the patriotic stickers, citing a culture of racism within the department, but said Wednesday that “after review, I made a decision to put department-issued flags on every locker and in every locker room,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

Even so, union representatives are asking for the chief’s resignation. Service Employees International Union Local 73, which represents the Maywood firefighters, filed a complaint Wednesday with the Illinois Labor Relations Board.

Union spokesman Adam Rosen said the complaint alleges that the department refused to bargain with the union over the mandate and created a hostile work environment, the Tribune reported.

“It’s about freedom of speech, and there should be nothing wrong with them expressing their patriotism,” Mr. Rosen said.

David Flowers Jr., the union president, said he was relieved of duty Tuesday after refusing to remove the Marine Corps decal from his locker that he inherited from his father.

“My dad served here for 26 years, an ex-marine, ex-Vietnam vet,” he told a local NBC affiliate. “I took his locker… We are the first African-American father and son on the Maywood Fire Department.”

“It’s very hurtful and disrespectful the way things turned out,” he said Wednesday. “Guys had 9/11 (stickers) … on their helmets. It means a lot to us. Mine has been on (my helmet) since 9/11.”

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