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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Labor & Workers
Support Anita Labossier At SF PUC
Anita Labossier, a member of IFPTE Local 21 and a city worker at the SF PUC South East Sewage plant has faced continued racial discrimination and harassment. She will be speaking at the SF PUC on Monday Dec 1, 2003 at 10:00AM to protest her removal from her job and the continual harassment.
SUPPORT ANITA LABOSSIER AND
THE FIGHT AGAINST RACISM AT THE SF PUC
PLEASE ATTEND the San Francisco PUC meeting when Anita Labossier makes a presentation about about the problem of racism at the South East Sewage plant in San Francisco. She will be speaking at the San Francisco PUC Hearing at 10:00 AM at Rm 400 at San Francisco City Hall.
The next meeting of the Bay Area Worker Democracy Network (BAWDN) will be on Thursday December 18, 2003 7:00 PM at the Nulight Restaurant at 3319 Mission St./29th St. San Francisco.
The proposed agenda will include:
Report on Anita Labossier's presentation and struggle against racism at S. E. Sewage Plant
Report on Privatizaiton Conference
Plans for labor action against war on Iraq
Bay Area Workers Democracy Network
San Francisco, CA 94115
carltv24 [at] aol.com
gata [at] infinex.com
Working for the City is a living hell
Dealing with racism in the wastewater plants
by Anita Labossiere
The death threat implied by this noose was aimed at another Black woman supervisor, Carmi Johnson.
African Americans who work for the San Francisco Water Pollution Control Bureau know there is a well organized plan to harass Black workers and anyone who supports us.
I have been working for the Bureau for over 23 years as a supervising chemist. I have won many awards for my work. After a few years of working with me, however, my staff decided they did not want to work with me any more, and I got no support from managers at the Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant. The management supported the chemists and their requests to be reassigned from me as supervisor. This made my program suffer tremendously.
No other supervisor has had to go through this. If an employee has problems with the supervisor, they work the problem out or get reassigned with a replacement. I am Black, and work is a living hell! My civil rights have been violated for years and continue to be violated on a regular basis when the staff refuses to work under me.
Leticia Brown and Anita Labossiere
Over the past two years, I’ve seen the racist attitudes intensify even in people that I once had respect for. Nooses have been hung at each of our wastewater plants - at Oceanside treatment plant, Southeast treatment plant and North Point treatment plant. Many Blacks were dismayed over this. I found it difficult to come to work during this time because of the racial tension this brought to the plant. Everyone was trying to figure out who would do something that horrific at a place of employment.
This set the tone for people who may have a racist view of minorities and now show it through job selections, hiring of personnel and placement of personnel. I was given a job in September 2002 to write up some safety procedures for each of our wastewater facilities. After five months of working extremely hard and conscientiously on the project, I was abruptly pulled off. I had been told prior to this how fantastic a job I was doing on the project.
When I asked for an explanation about this, the head manager told me my old crew was shorthanded and needed me back where I came from before I got the new assignment. I was a little upset but got over it and moved on. A month later, after my return to my old crew, one of my crew members was sent to a different crew even though we were supposedly shorthanded. He was a white male.
Recently, another crew member got the assignment he wanted, but again we were supposed to be shorthanded. Furthermore, the job I had been doing was recently given to another white male when it had been promised to me if the job ever reopened. I’m no longer shocked by this. It just confirms the racial bias that exists at our plants.
Leticia Brown has been an employee with the City and County of San Francisco for 13 years. She has worked as an engineer for both the Oceanside treatment plant and the Southeast treatment plant. During her 13 years at both plants she has experienced harassment by both supervisors and coworkers. The harassment extends from being verbally cursed at by her supervisor to inappropriate comments from coworkers.
One supervisor went so far as to get in her face and scream at her using the F word. When she asked him to not use the word anymore, his response was to repeat the word several times to her within inches of her face. She was visibly in shock at this response and shaken up. She was unable to continue the job she was working on and was terribly upset that a man would talk to a woman with such disrespect, and him being her immediate supervisor made it even worse. He did this on more than one occasion.
The example he set caused some of her male coworkers to feel as though it was ok for them to act this way towards her as well. The basic respect between workers was then out the window, and she had to constantly argue and battle for something as basic as her right to work in a hostility-free environment. The hostile environment would never have existed if the supervisor hadn’t instigated it.
Working under conditions where animosity and disrespect become the normal day to day interaction causes an unnecessarily stressful environment. A man who is a real man doesn’t have to stoop to trying to bully a woman. This shows the sick character the individual possesses - especially when the yelling started over a question about a simple job assignment.
The all-white managers in Water Quality, with a KKK mentality, make working in the Water Pollution Control Bureau a living hell. For example, I received several safety complaints about my parking, and my manger had me in a disciplinary meeting without the union being present. The manager said he was concerned about my driving and asked if I needed help in driving back to the Southeast laboratory. I told him no, I don’t need his help in driving back.
I told him I have been working for the City for over 23 years and have never had one accident in a city car and that I have a valid driver’s license. During the meeting, he told me that I had to submit to a DMV driving test and that I could not drive or do any more City business. At that moment I told him that he was violating my civil rights and that I wanted the union present to represent me.
This is the way the managers harass Black people and violate every civil service law on the books. No other city employees have to go through this lack of respect. I know many employees who have had many accidents with city cars, and they are never harassed about it. It is very apparent that there are double standards for me. Many managers have this mentality. Every day you have to watch your back and go to work in fear!
On July 30, I left home to go to work with my slippers on and was planning to change my shoes when I got to work. A rumor spread throughout the plant that I was walking around without any shoes on. They were trying to make me out to be a “madwoman,” and I was forced to go to the hospital. If I didn’t go to the hospital, they said they were going to call the police on me and make me go illegally.
I was completely outraged by this violation of my basic civil rights and had to defend myself against these allegations by going to the doctor. The doctor gave me a clean bill of health, of course.
I can’t even begin to explain how utterly humiliating this made me feel. I felt that my reputation and name were slandered, all in the name of a despicable and cruel joke. I was told that this was all done for my own good and out of concern for me.
The positive, happy, friendly attitude that I had when I first came to the plant at the age of 18 has slowly diminished over time. I’ve seen this happen to other workers as well. By the time they retire, they’re bitter and angry because of this constant battle to have a healthy work environment. They’ve been let down, because the mangers allow the harassment to happen. I don’t want to end up one of those bitter people.
Instead of problem solving, when you make a complaint to the City and County’s EEOC, they notify the manager, even though the EEOC is supposed to be supportive of the staff. The City and County’s EEOC trains managers how to use the law so that nothing ever happens to the complaint.
A lot of different races are upset with this madness. They are completely frightened by the managers’ wrath, which is loud, nasty and very confrontational. They are always lying and being very manipulative with people through bogus rules they implement. They are doing this to me and other minorities throughout the City. They’re hanging minority professionals out to dry without a fair trial.
Speaking of hanging, the nooses that have been discovered at each of our wastewater plants are physical proof of the racial mentality that the plants are operating under. An environment such as this is completely unfair to the individuals who do not have this mentality. You’re just an innocent bystander observing the injustice and inappropriate behavior around you.
There are some minorities who share the racist line of thinking. They go along with everything the managers say, even if they are completely wrong in disciplining the minority personnel. The City and County of San Francisco, in its mission statement, claims it provides an opportunity to work in a challenging environment with diverse employees from all racial backgrounds. Therefore, managers with racial or gender bias have no place within the City system.
The managers blame the minorities for everything that goes wrong and send us to suspension hearings in an effort to terminate us. They generate a false paper trail, writing unsubstantiated charges in our personnel folders to facilitate the termination process.
The hiring process is another issue of importance that needs to be addressed. The hiring process does not count seniority as a basis for promotion, while other City agencies weigh seniority very heavily. This enables the managers to be biased in the selection and promotion process and to pass over dedicated employees who have served the City for many, many years. Their perseverance, dedication and loyalty is not taken as a criterion anymore. This causes me not to want to come to work under such stressful conditions. I’m sure this is exactly the way the managers want us to feel.
The example that is being set for the personnel is that people who think like this can get away with harassing and trying to intimidate their fellow workers. I’ve dealt with my share of this attitude, which has filtered down and created a hostile environment in which we’re constantly defending ourselves.
The management has created monsters out of these workers, who start to feel like swearing and being disrespectful and corrupt is normal behavior in a work environment. The employees who act in this manner didn’t start off acting that way; it happened over time by working in a chaotic environment.
They’ve been trained this way by the examples that are set on a daily basis. I have been harassed both on and off the job by these monsters, who have been created and cloned after the manipulative management. They start to take on the “I’m untouchable” attitude that the management has and even feel justified in this harassing behavior and find it humorous to act in this illegal way.
This is just one example of their idea of a” normal” workday at the plant. Working under so much stress on a daily basis causes you to get sick with the following: lack of sleep, severe migraine headaches and loss of appetite. I’ve had to take a leave of absence just to deal with this disgusting, ghastly, repulsive, sickening behavior. I have the right to work in a hostility-free environment as stated in the civil service charter by the City and County of San Francisco.
I’m no longer willing to look the other way. Something has to be done immediately about this crisis situation. I want people in the community to have some insight into what’s happening in their backyard.