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Mom On Strike, Having Time of Her Life

July 25, 1988

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) _ Gretchen Schulte has gone the way of many disgruntled workers, declaring a strike, setting up a picket line and erecting protest placards against unfair labor practices.

Cooking, cleaning, laundry, sewing and driving her children to summer activities were among the tasks she refused to do during her walkout, which appears to be entering its second week today.

Mrs. Schulte, 42, said she’s protesting her motherly duties because she felt she was being taken for granted.

Her husband, Theodore, pitched in and helped her with the signs that were draped on the front porch.

The family could not be reached Sunday by telephone, but the protest placards were still in view and Mrs. Schulte said Saturday during an interview she would pursue her walkout at least through a second week.

Neighbors said the Schultes appeared to be away for the day, leading to speculation that some heavy collective bargaining might be going on.

Hand-painted signs on the front of the frame dwelling read: ″Mom On Strike″ and ″Union + Labor Teenagers.″

″I don’t expect it to change overnight,″ Mrs. Schulte said Saturday. ″I’m going to last another week, but if it goes another month I don’t really care.″

A cardboard fence marked a picket line, serving notice to her four children to use the back door.

″I became too much of a mother, too much of a chauffeur,″ she said. ″I just began doing too much for them and they weren’t giving me anything.″ There was constant squabbling about making beds and doing dishes, she said.

″I said I don’t have enough money to go to a counselor, and these things are too small anyway, but if I let them go, I’m going to have a lot of problems,″ she said.

She and her husband made signs that were posted inside the house. When the children only ″thought it was cool,″ she decided to go public.

The campaign began July 18 with no meals, no money from mother’s pocket for milk and no rides to work. Their telephone was disconnected. Television and radio were taken to ″strike headquarters″ in the parents’ bedroom.

No teen-ager friends were allowed to cross the picket line.

Schulte said he supported his wife 100 percent and was acting as strike mediator.

The children, twins Heidi and Eric, 14; Julie, 13, and Jerry, 8, gave the strike mixed reviews.

″I feel embarrassed because everyone is asking me about it,″ Heidi said, ″but we’re going to have to make a change because we don’t want her on strike anymore. She has a point, but I think she went about it the wrong way.″

Jerry, who promised to spend an afternoon making his bed and cleaning his room, the living room and the bathroom, said: ″Some people are saying good for Mom.″

″I say good for Mom, too.″

By the weekend, Mrs. Schulte reported progress but that talks had yet to produce a settlement.

″I love them,″ Mrs. Schulte said of her children. ″I just want them to look at themselves and see that they don’t have it so tough at my house. When they start doing these things, I’ll go off strike.″

Meanwhile, she said, ″I’m having the time of my life.″

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