Small businesses, many of them family-owned, are the backbone of our economy. They have experienced lockdowns, mask mandates, overbearing tax and regulatory burdens, supply chain issues, and labor shortages. Now they face unconstitutional vaccine...
Small businesses, many of them family-owned, are the backbone of our economy. They have experienced lockdowns, mask mandates, overbearing tax and regulatory burdens, supply chain issues, and labor shortages. Now they face unconstitutional vaccine mandates, which interfere with personal health freedom and privacy for themselves and their employees. What can they do? Linda’s guest, Steven Fettig, is the CFO of two family-owned manufacturing corporations in Wisconsin. They decided to stand for freedom and challenge the mandates through the legal system, adding their efforts to those of many other brave leaders across the country who are rising in opposition to the mandates. Courage is contagious, and if you need a dose of courage to stand up for your Constitutional rights and freedom, be sure to listen today.
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Linda: Welcome. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Prosperity 101 - Breakroom Economics Podcast. My name is Linda J. Hansen, your host, and the author of Prosperity 101 - Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck and the creator of the Breakroom Economics online course. The book, the course, and the entire podcast library can be found on prosperity101.com.
I seek to connect boardroom to breakroom and policy to paycheck by empowering and encouraging employers to educate employees about the public policy issues that affect their jobs. My goal is to help people understand the foundations of prosperity, the policies of prosperity, and how to protect their prosperity by becoming informed, involved, and impactful. I believe this will lead to greater employee loyalty, engagement and retention, and to an increased awareness of the blessings and responsibilities of living in a free society. Listen each week to hear from exciting guests and be sure to visit prosperity101.com.
Thank you for joining us today. If you are a consistent listener, you know that I often highlight family-owned businesses. As one who has experienced working with my family in a vibrant business, I understand the blessings and challenges that can come from working alongside family members. Building a business is difficult no matter who you work with, but building a family legacy through the business takes special effort. In my experience, I have found that family-run businesses tend to have a strong focus on caring for employees and most strive to create a professional environment that honors each individual. Small businesses, many of them family-owned, are the backbone of our economy. They have experienced lockdowns, mask mandates, overbearing tax and regulatory burdens, supply chain issues and labor shortages. Now, they are facing unconstitutional vaccine mandates, which interfere with personal health freedom and privacy. What can they do?
My guest today is Steven Fettig. Steve is the CFO of two family-owned corporations, Tankcraft and Plasticraft, both located in Darien, Wisconsin. They are closely held OEM manufacturing facilities. Steve is proud to be part of a family and enterprise that approach business with service and delivery as key to success. They live by the motto, do it right the first time. They also place a great emphasis on people and personal responsibility. They believe if they treat individuals with respect and hold them responsible to reasonable expectations, not only will the organization succeed, but the individuals who make up that organization will become a keystone to its success. And they can take pride in the results. They are not afraid to make hard decisions or take risks that they believe will be in the best interest of their employees and their families. Their courageous leadership is inspirational, and that is why I asked Steven Fettig to be a guest today. Thank you for joining with us, Steve.
Steven: Thanks for having me, Linda. Appreciate it.
Linda: It's a pleasure. First, I'd like you just to share a little bit of the story of Tankcraft and Plasticraft.
Steven: Sure. As usual, my dad would probably tell the story a little bit better because he was there and I was a little kid, but Tankcraft Corporation was purchased by our family or by my dad in 1986 from another family-owned a group of companies called Silver Industries. Long story short, my dad has been in manufacturing since he was in high school. He actually paid his way through high school and college by taking on odd jobs, a lot of which were in manufacturing and thought that after the years that he had spent working for other people that he would try his hand at running his own business. And so one thing led to another and he found Tankcraft.
Then in 1990, after a late night discussion with a gentleman who was helping operations at Tankcraft, who had had a lot of experience in the plastics industry, kind of in typical fashion of how these things start, they just decided to start plastic manufacturing operation that we called Plasticraft, which focuses on roto and blow molded hollow product. And we've been running those businesses successfully since then. We've obviously faced a lot of challenges over the years, whether economic or with our customers, but we've succeeded at growing those businesses, keeping them alive, and trying to provide good employment for the families in our community.
Linda: That's a great story and so similar to many entrepreneurs across the nation and business owners. You mentioned some of the challenges that you faced, and one is the current vaccine mandates that we've seen from the Biden administration. Could you tell the listeners the bold step that you and well, Tankcraft and Plasticraft have taken together with Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty to push back against the Biden administration and these unconstitutional vaccine mandates?
Steven: Well, let me give you a little background before I go into that. Another business enterprise that we decided to engage in and start in 2016 is cash-only medical clinic. That came about because starting in around 2005 and ‘06, we noticed that the cost of healthcare to our employees was increasing exponentially every year. We were seeing average increases on the order of 15% and after Obamacare was passed, I think officially in 2009, but then became law in 2010 and then had implementation periods that went through 2014, the cost of healthcare, whether it was insuring or actually paying for healthcare services, continue to rise exponentially.
And we have quite a bit of family in healthcare, part of running large healthcare organizations, we have family who have done large scale medical research. The feedback that we always have gotten from those family members that are big part of healthcare costs was administrative. And since we focus quite a bit on administrative costs in our business, we thought, “Hey, maybe we can do this better.” And we decided to start a healthcare clinic.
So in 2016, we officially opened a clinic called the Doctor's Office. Our primary clinic, or our first clinic is in Darien, Wisconsin near our facilities. Since then, we've opened a clinic in Janesville and then in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and we are in the middle of opening another clinic in Cedarburg and we should have a clinic open in Burlington by the end of the year or early next year.
So that is background. When the beginnings of COVID 19 started to grip the public and policymakers, we had already been to talking about this potential for a virus coming into our community and affecting our employees. We got really lucky. The guy who is director of our medical clinics is the former Wisconsin State Vet. His name is Paul McGraw. He actually is a trained epidemiologist and has studied coronavirus, which is the basis for COVID-19 for a good part of his career, and has worked with public health through his career as a state vet in managing herd infection issues arising from coronavirus.
We have been skeptical about the danger that COVID poses to people in general, from the very beginning, because if its basis is coronavirus, the cause of the common cold, then it's something that we as humans have been experiencing for a very long time. Initially, when there was a suggestion that this had been bioengineered and I think even some people called it a bio weapon, we thought, well, what type of actions can we take to protect ourselves and other people from either getting the virus or if they got the virus, how can we treat it?
Basically, our focus from the beginning has been on treatment and taking measures within our businesses to clean our facilities, make sure that people's exposure to things like bacterial and viral infections were minimized, which is something that we've basically done from the beginning. Furthermore, because one of our facilities is a welding facility. We have to review air quality on a constant basis. And we're very well informed about efficacy of wearing masks or lack thereof and the problems that are posed by wearing masks. We also employ air filtration systems, just all kinds of things that were already in place to keep people safe from any type of health issue, like the spread of infection and viruses.
When this came about, we started looking for data immediately, what coronavirus was, the effects that it could have on humans, what now this new newly-termed COVID-19 was, which is basically SARS-2, the original SARS being a public health issue in either 2001 or 2002, and looking at what effect we can expect it to have on our employees. Remember, lost time due to sickness is something that you want to avoid at all costs. It not only impacts employee morale because it burdens other employees with finishing jobs that the people who are sick aren't performing. People being sick is just not something that anybody wants or wants to deal with. A healthy work population, a healthy office is paramount to running a good business.
So we have been working with the medical providers and the staff at the Doctor's Office from the beginning, from before this was even a thing. We were already talking about this in December of 2019. January of 2020, we had meetings with people at the Doctor's Office, some of the medical staff to find out what they knew about coronavirus beyond what Paul was already aware of. And so we came up with a relatively simple plan as to what we were going to do in order to keep our employees safe and healthy.
And the first part of it was already taken care of by the way our manufacturing is laid out. We have very large facilities. Each person that works in the facility generally has 300 to 800 square feet in which they work, which is bigger than the average living room in the United States, or as big as some homes or apartments are. And those groups that work closely with one another, we looked at what they were working on, whether there was a lot of sharing of things that someone touched, what was the activity of the person and what steps could be taken to make sure that they were safe. And besides what now is called social distancing, which we already engaged in, we just clean surfaces more often than we had in the past. Our air filtration systems already used various types of electrostatic cleaning ozone. There are things that naturally destroy bacteria and viruses.
So those things were just left in place. And we talked to our employees immediately about what might or might not happen and said that we would keep them informed and if they wanted more information or help, they could always reach out to the staff at the Doctor's Office. And understand, the Doctor's Office, while the hope was that it would drive down the cost to healthcare for our employees, the Doctor's Office is open and available for anyone in any of the communities, any public member who wants to go see it. So we just encourage people to think about their health, take whatever measures they thought were appropriate to keep themselves healthy.
Now fast forward to the vaccine mandate and the reality is it's very simple to force anyone to engage in medical experimentation, which is what OSHA is demanding is unethical, it's immoral, it's against every basic, natural human right we have. Medical decisions are very personal. They should be made on the basis of your own life, your lifestyle, and you should not be forced into doing anything like it's being suggested today. So as this has gone on my friends, those of whom or those who actually will continue talking and debating with me on these topics know where I stand. Another mutual friend of mine knows some people at WILL and they asked if they could help us. Well, we were going to reach out to them anyway. And so we joined with WILL in trying to fight this.
Linda: That's great. I'd just like to clarify for the listeners, when you're referred to will, that is the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. And that is based here in the Milwaukee area. And they are a nonprofit that really helps to fight for freedom issues in the courts.
Steven: And really at the end of the day, the problem that we have had, and I want to make very clear. This is our entire executive staff. We have just shy of 400 employees at both organizations split relatively evenly between the two. And there are approximately similarly 350 factory employees, so people who are working out in the factory, whether as finishers, general laborers, welders, linemen, line people, any of those things, the rest of the people are performing office functions. The gross majority of our employees are in a factory and in the environment that we should be concerned about. And from day one, people were adamant about making choices that they felt made sense, whether it was to stay at home because they were trying to care for themselves or their family, doing things in their personal life that they felt would keep them safe, making recommendations to us as to things that we could do differently within the manufacturing facilities. But at the end of the day, this is about a person's choice to engage with their community, the way that they choose. And that community includes their work group.
I mean, let's put it this way. It's an extraordinarily tight labor market, which means we are having a heck of a time finding employees. Our employees, would be more than able to get up and move to another employer if they felt that they were being mistreated. There are thousands of job openings in Walworth county alone, which is not a highly populated county in Wisconsin, even though it's in the Southeastern, more populated area of Wisconsin. And yet our employees, God bless them, have stuck with us and have supported us and we have tried to support them. And so the idea that after what is going to go on two years now, the federal government is going to come in and tell us how to keep our employees safe and going to force those people to experiment on their bodies with medication that may or may not be effective.
I'm not going to argue the efficacy of any of these things. I am going to question whether or not we fundamentally have the right to tell someone to inject themselves with a substance that they may or may not choose to inject themselves with out of their own free will. And this is wrong. This is absolutely utterly wrong. Just like it would be wrong for us to try to contain our employees in our factory and not let them go out and look for other jobs.
So we told people what was going to happen when President Biden announced plans to direct OSHA to issue this rule and everybody, or most people cheered us on, most people support what we are doing, because we have proven that we know how to keep people safe in our facilities. And let's say we didn't, I want to make the bigger point. If we did not know how to keep people safe, there is no time like today where someone can leave and go somewhere else to work, probably with better pay. It is just absolutely mind boggling that you and I are even sitting down to have this discussion at a time when so much information is available on what people can do and how they can stay safe. And so many questions should be raised on the efficacy of these vaccines that are being pushed on people while they still remain in the experimental phase. I don't know how else to define things.
And the emails that I've gotten from people, some of them very supportive in our lawsuit, but others criticizing us for putting our employees in harm's way is beyond laughable. Actually, it's a disgusting commentary to act as if we would put people who we depend on in harm's way. These are people who are like family to my family, and we are going to do everything we can to keep them safe and also defend their rights to make medical choices without any coercion.
Linda: That is absolutely outstanding that you are working to defend their rights to make their own medical decisions. I believe as you do that medical decisions should be between a person and their doctor, not between that person and the government. And it's not up to the government to tell us what we should put in our bodies, especially when you talk about whether or not the efficacy or safety of these vaccines may be an issue.
And we have seen so much that vaccinated people are also getting and exposing others to COVID-19, and they are also losing their lives and things to the disease, even though they are fully vaccinated. So in my mind, I'm thinking, “Why do we need these?” But I've always believed that it's really not about the disease as much as it is about the control. And especially as we look at these mandates for young children, it concerns me that we're expanding mandates into younger children. And so I really appreciate what you and others are doing to push back against this to one, show the unconstitutionality of it, but also to just stand up and bring forth truth. That is important for people to think about because if we give into this, what will be next? We've already lost so many freedoms or so many freedoms are threatened already in America that if we give into this, what's next? So I thank you for standing up.
Steven: One other things I'll say about basic freedoms and the way that we've handled this, if you look throughout history, I mean, maybe ... I can't say with 100% confidence, but I'm 90 plus percent sure that any other event that has taken place in the United States in the history of this country has never been met with the type of cowardice that this has been met with. Every other time that Americans have been faced with a threat, we have asked our families, our neighbors, and our communities to literally join together hand in hand to support one another. And instead, the approach that has been taken with this is to hide away in our homes to treat one another like a deadly disease and to start and sow the seeds of mistrust among one another, and the data just does not support what we are doing.
The data doesn't support lockdowns, the data doesn't support masking, the data doesn't support using experimental vaccines on people, none of it's supported. And yet we still continue to beat the drum of fear, accuse our neighbors of being the source of infection. I don't understand what happened between let's say, January 2020 and today to sow this type of mistrust among Americans. My heart goes out to the people who died alone. And that's what we did. Solitary confinement is the world's best punishment for criminals. Solitary confinement, meaning taking a person's exposure to any other human being away from them and limiting their communication with other human beings. That's how we break people. That's how we destroy people's minds, that's how we ... Literally punishment. It's considered the worst punishment short of death. And yet one of the protocols we've chosen to engage in through this is solitary confinement. I've heard stories from families who weren't able to hug, to hold, to be near their family members as they died.
Linda: Heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking.
Steven: It is absolutely mind ... Again, my wonder and not the good kind of wonder over what we've done to ourselves is insane. What shocks me even more is people wanting to double down on this, but I just wonder what type of person believes that the best way to handle things is to shut people out and throw them in a room and lock the door behind them. That is beyond inhumane. And that's what we are suggesting be done with people besides them, I have to insist, this forced medical experimentation.
Linda: Well, and as we look at our nation, you know, united we stand, divided we fall, and there are those who seek to divide us, whether they divide us by race or ethnicity or vaccination status, or whether or not we have masks on or not, there are those who seek to divide and that division makes a weaker nation. So you bring up some really good points. And I think that we can either stand up to all of this, like you and those in your company have done and others that are pushing back with lawsuits against these mandates. We can either stand up and push back and be united together for the cause of freedom and freedom of choice, medical choice, or we can kind of roll over and let those who think this division is the great way to move forward. And we can know from past experiences and history teaches when countries were coerced, shall I say, into medical decisions and this type of division, they were ripe for takeovers or they were ripe to fall and freedom can be lost, especially when we voluntarily give it up out of fear.
Steven: I think the question I would be surprised to find anybody, or any good number of people listening to this who are not freedom lovers and who do not value liberty like you and I do, general sense of knowing better than your neighbor, what is right for them is something that I thought we had fought hard against over the past 50 years. Part of the population fighting for freedom. Leave me alone, let me make my own choices. Why do you get to dictate whether I do X, Y, Z, or not? It strikes me as odd that this somehow changes everything. And yet the data doesn't back it up, it doesn't back it up at all.
Linda: You're right. And you know, that phrase, “Leave me alone.” That was a cry of the Tea Party movement back in the 2008-2010 timeframe too, when citizens rose up against other unconstitutional things that they felt were very important. And I feel that it's just so important for people such as yourself to stand up, to put their mark in the sand, shall I say, to say, we will not take this anymore. You know, leave us alone, we can't do this.
Steven: It's gone too far.
Linda: It's gone too far. And Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and Tankcraft and Plasticraft, we thank you for standing up and being a voice against this and the overreach that government wants to have within our lives. And I know that there's other lawsuits that have come up against this too. I know that Alliance Defending Freedom, if people want to go look at their sites too, it's adflegal.org, but they together with several different organizations, including Christian Employers Alliance, and others have brought different lawsuits against both OSHA and the Biden administration. These things are happening all over the country now I think it's up to 28 states have now filed lawsuits against these mandates. So for all the employers too, what would you tell employers? One, I'd like you to give a recommendation to employers who don't want to enforce the mandate, but two, how do you recommend employers talk to their employees about this?
Steven: Linda, I got to be honest with you. That's really tough. Anybody who has spent any amount of time in business knows that there are certain things, certain lines that you just don't cross. When you're interviewing someone, you don't talk about religion, gender, family, lifestyle, medical. Your focus when you're talking to your employees should be on whether they are a good fit within your company to help you service your customers, help you, in our case, manufacture quality product and at the end of the day, satisfy the needs of your customers. Because if you don't do those things, you're not going to survive and the job isn't going to exist. All of those other things that I call personal are ancillary. Do they have an impact? Yeah, they certainly do. But if someone comes to work, willing to work and interest in working every day, it really doesn't matter what background they come from.
When it comes to COVID, I just don't understand why this changes anything about that relationship that has existed for decades between employer and employee. You can talk to your employees, you can make suggestions. I would suggest that before you do so, dive down the rabbit hole on this, don't just go to CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News to find out what their frankly, opinions are on COVID, do the research, go to CDC, go to VAERS. VAERS is the reporting website that talks about side effects due to taking any type of drug, including the vaccines. Read the insert on the vaccines, read what the potential side effects are. Ask yourself whether this is right for you.
Here's something, I don't watch commercial television, but the only thing I watch these days is streamed so I don't watch any commercials, but we were traveling recently and I saw some commercials for the COVID vaccine. And what struck me is unlike every other commercial for some pill or some medication, there was no time given, saying, “Talk to your doctor or provider about potential side effects and whether or not you should take this drug.” It was posited as if there aren't any side effects. Well, there is no such thing. Tylenol has side effects, aspirin, things that are over the counter have side effects and certain people shouldn't take them. My wife is deadly allergic to penicillin. Something that none of ... I'm not allergic to and our children aren't.
I would hope that employers would fight this because I think it's immoral. I just think it's immoral if you want help, feel free to contact us. My email address is email@example.com. I probably won't respond quickly, but I will try to respond. Reach out to WILL Wisconsin Institute for Liberty and Law. It's will-law.org. You should know this by heart.
Linda: Yeah, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty will provide great information as well as Alliance Defending Freedom, which is adflegal.org. So there's so much information.
Steven: There is. I'm sorry to keep going on about this, but look, the employers should not be doing this. This is not their place. If they have gone this long and kept their facilities healthy, then why would they engage in anything other than what they have been doing up until now? And why would you risk something that could ... One of the side effects of the vaccines is death. So to me, it's up to the person to weigh whether or not they feel that COVID itself poses a great risk or the vaccine. That is not our choice as employers. And then as far as people are concerned, don't. It's your body. These are your choices.
I have seen so many of my friends who, some of whom agree with me, some of whom really don't agree with me. One of my closest friends who I work with and talk to many times a week does not agree at all with my, and my family's views on this and yet we remain friends and he has chosen to get the vaccination. I think he's on the second booster. He feels that it's good for his person. And that's a choice that I don't want to take away from him either. What we think it is, if we have any semblance of faith and liberty. It's a big if for me right now, some of my closer friends in the policy arena think that I'm being a little bit too dramatic, but I just wonder if it is what we think it is, this will not stand. It will not pass muster in the courts. This power grab by anyone who thinks that they can make medical choices on behalf of other people will lose. They'll lose that battle. That's what we're fighting for.
Linda: Well, we really appreciate-
Steven: God help us if we lose.
Linda: Yeah, exactly. God help us if we lose. We really appreciate you doing that and your family's stance on this. Thank you for taking the time, effort, resources to do so and taking the risk. Because, like you said, there's people who agree, there's people who don't agree. It may cost you some personal relationships or even some business relationships, but you've taken a stand and we thank you for that.
Here in America, standing for freedom is always the best choice. And you mentioned how your friend who has been fully vaccinated, you have different views on it, that's fine. That's one of the things in America is we've allowed people to make the choices that they feel are best for them. And it's a free society. We want to keep it that way.
One thing I would add for people to think about is, what would be next? I know I mentioned this briefly, but it just seems like the camel's nose in the tent, it becomes something that so gradually diminishes our freedom. We just acquiesced to these demands and then the next thing, it's more prohibitive of life of liberty. So we do need to stand up. We thank you for doing that. I'm thankful for the organizations and the leaders across the country, in states, companies, and different nonprofit organizations who are standing up.
Just speaking of a nonprofit organization too, I just want to mention basically how we first met was through the MacIver Institute for Public Policy, the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, which you are the board chairman and I was the founding development director, so helped to raise the money for the entire organization to get off the ground. And we could hire the president and get the organization moving. And the MacIver Institute for Public Policy is a great resource of information on this and other topics. And that website is maciverinstitute.com It's M-A-C-I-V-E-R institute.com. It really focuses on Wisconsin policy, but these policies and discussions that they have, research that they do can be applicable in other states as well, and can provide valuable information for people all across the country. Would you like to add anything about the MacIver Institute?
Steven: They have really done an amazing job at reviewing the data behind COVID infection rates, hospitalizations in the State of Wisconsin. These guys are tireless in their pursuit of facts and information, and that's what we're missing today. One person who reached out to me, another business owner in Wisconsin who feels that what we are doing is immoral and wrong, made a lot of strong accusations about the reasons why we're doing what we are doing without any knowledge. The fact of the matter is MacIver and other organizations, the staff at the Doctor's Office, that website is visitthedoctorsoffice.com. All of these people, MacIver, The Doctor's Office, Paul McGraw, my science-researching friends, people like yourself have all been instrumental in helping us do what we think is the right thing.
And so I guess the advice I have for people is don't depend on one source. Definitely don't depend on the source that benefits the most from this because I'm telling you, we will not benefit from taking a stand. Look around and ask yourself whether what you are reading and seeing on the news is true and work hard to find reliable information. And when someone does something that you disagree with, maybe just have the humility to ask why, why are you doing that? What's your reasoning for it? All of these places have been huge resources. I am so thankful that people like you are willing to fight this liberty grab along with us. I hope that we all are around for years to come and maybe the fights get less intense, but we believe and stand for liberty the way that we have since the inception of all of these organizations. So thank you very much, Linda, for having me.
Linda: Well, thank you, Steve. We really appreciate it. And again, please give the website.
Steven: The website is tankcraftcorp.com. We're an OEM. We don't make product for the public. So it's just a little bit of information about us. Plasticraftcorp.com, P-L-A-S-T-I-C-R-A-F-T-C-O-R-P.com. The more important one is visitthedoctorsoffice.com. That's where we have our medical clinics. We are more than happy to treat you. We do not accept insurance, but we are focused on providing healthcare like we think people should be treated and MacIver Institute, M-A-C-I-V-E-R institute.com. Those are all places that I hope you'll visit. Again, really appreciate you having me at on the show. I hope that your listeners gained something from my soapbox rant.
Linda: Well, I'm sure they did. And hopefully, courage is contagious. And your courage, I hope will spread to others who also want to join the pipe for freedom and liberty and medical freedom and medical privacy. So thank you.
Steven: Thank you again.
Linda: Thank you again for listening to the Prosperity 101 Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share, and leave a great review. Don't forget to visit prosperity101.com to access the entire podcast library, to order my newest book, Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck, or to enroll you or your employees in the Breakroom Economics online course. You can also receive the free ebook, 10 Tips for Helping Employees Understand How Public Policy Affects Their Paychecks.
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