Working America issues statement defending women insulted by suspended GOP chair

Posted at: 04/25/2013 11:11 AM
By: staff

Photo: Steve Kush
Photo: Steve Kush

The organization that lobbied for a minimum wage increase in Bernalillo County is speaking out about two of its workers who were insulted on social media after the commission approved the increase.

As KOB Eyewitness News 4 reported Wednesday, Bernalillo County Republican Executive Director Steve Kush was suspended without pay after making comments about two female  Working America workers on Facebook and Twitter.

The remarks came as Kush and the workers attended a Bernalillo County Commission meeting where the commissioners were considering raising the minimum wage.

On Facebook, Kush wrote, "Nice hat Working America chick but damn you are a radical b****."

This was as worker Celeste Paramo spoke to the commission to publicly express her support for the increase.

Later Kush also posted: "Uh oh another Working America chick... Nice boots... I know she makes more than min wage."

The girl in the boots Kush was referring to was Chelsey Evans, who is the director of Working America in New Mexico.

Kush has apologized for the remarks.

On Wednesday, KOB spoke to both women, who called the remarks “disrespectful” and “derogatory.”

Here is the statement released Thursday by Working America:

"On Tuesday night, at a hearing to consider a minimum-wage raise in Bernalillo County, a Working America staff member and a Working America member were subjected to several smears on social media by prominent figures in New Mexico politics.

The member, a 19-year-old college student from Albuquerque, and the staff member, who has advocated for workers in New Mexico for more than five years, were offering testimony about why a raise in the wage is critical to thousands of families and to the health of the county’s economy.

These degrading comments have no justification and are not fit for public discourse. We thank the community and our allies who have defended our organizers and workers over the last few days amid a frenzy of activity and attention.

We have received a direct apology from one of the offending parties and the other has been suspended from his position.

While we are saddened by these comments, it is clear that a few unfortunate choices have neither dampened the victory we feel for the 10,000 working people in Bernalillo County, nor has it diminished our resolve to continue to fight for working families in New Mexico.

Now, 50,000 people in Bernalillo County and Albuquerque will have a wage increase that will pour money directly back into New Mexico’s communities, businesses and economy.

We congratulate these two women for their outstanding work. We stand proudly with them and with the working families who represent the best of New Mexico."