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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Labor & Workers
Jail PG&E Execs Say Protesters At PG&E Federal Criminal Indictment In San Francisco
No Nukes Action, Fukushima Response, United Public Workers For Action joined together at the Federal indictment hearing of PG&E for criminal penalties for the San Bruno gas explosion and deaths. They demanded the closure of PG&E nuclear plant at Diablo Canyon public control of the utilities and energy and criminal prosecution of PG&E executives and managers
Protesters had a press conference in front of the San Francisco Federal building where PG&E was being indicted with felony charges for the gas explosion and deaths in San Bruno. The US attorney is refusing to personally prosecute PG&E corporate executives for their criminal negligence.
The protesters also called for the closure of the Diablo Valley nuclear plant run by PG&E, the public control of our utilities and energy and for the jailing of PG&E executives. These managers and executives have also retaliated against workers who expose health and safety problems and have been getting away with it.
The proposed fines would likely only be paid by the ratepayers and not the executives of PG&E.
PG&E Whistleblower Fingers Diablo Safety Dangers
Writer's Name Withheld
I am a resident of San Luis Obispo County, and an employee of Diablo Canyon (DCPP).
I understand that a good many people are very concerned about DCPP after what happened to the plant in Japan. I field questions about our plant almost every day, from neighbors and family members.
Being aware of both the plant design and conditions at the Fukushima plant and DCPP, I am not worried about a similar disaster here. I could go into the specific reasons why I do not believe such a threat is credible, but that is not why I am writing to you.
I do believe DCPP is a threat to our community, but it is not because of the plant's design, or a potential natural disaster. I believe the principle threat is the company that runs the plant, PG&E.
For the past 10 years, I have watched as PG&E upper management gives lip service to safety. In fact, it is our stated number one priority. However, what we say and what we do are radically different. DCPP management routinely breaks a myriad of laws, both federal and state, in an effort to reduce operating costs. Most of the violations are related to labor laws and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations.
In fact, DCPP recently received three Cal/OSHA violations for unsafe conditions. What makes this unusual is not that we got cited, but that the conditions that caused the citations were identified by workers BEFORE Cal/OSHA became involved as dangerous and illegal. Workers brought this to management, and were rebuffed. This is the typical response to both safety and labor law violations, the company ignores the conditions, and only changes course when forced to do so by law enforcement entities. Does this sound like the actions of management guided by "conservative decision making?"
Most recently, our lab shut off all the emergency showers and eye wash stations for maintenance. While this is not noteworthy, what is noteworthy is that fact that management ordered work in the lab to continue as usual, without taking any precautions in case of an industrial accident. When workers protested the situation, management responded by temporarily hooking up the emergency showers to the hot water supply. If anyone had used the showers in an accident, they would have been burned by 150-degree water. This fact was apparently not made known to the workers in the lab, and when an operations employee found out and tried to stop the work in progress, management overrode the concerns and ordered work in the lab to continue. This is only one example of the "safety culture" that is in effect at the plant.
I have pasted in the contents of an email from one of the operations employees involved. I have not included his name because I did not get permission to use it. This email was sent to Chris Johns and John Conway (of PG&E), and I can guarantee there will be no response.
It is with much regret I have filed yet another complaint with CAL OSHA for blatant safety violations in the workplace.
It does not matter if we raise valid Confined Space concerns, Electrical safety concerns, eyewash and shower concerns, safety at heights concerns, and every one of them having been validated, the company does not see the programmatic problems in the safety at DCPP.
On Friday, April 22, 2011, workers were working in the Primary Laboratory at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant as directed by management with Emergency shower deluge and eyewash stations out of service.
Management had provided an inadequate temporary shower installed and hooked up directly to the hot water system supplied by 153 deg. water supplied by the plants industrial hot water heater.
What makes the incident most egregious to the workforce is for the Primary Laboratory it is a repeat offense. (last time they had no shower or eyewash.) even after again being warned.
DCPP has received three Cal OSHA Citations--two Serious with Fines for similar issues in the last 6 months and yet work continues at the plant unabated, over the written and verbal objections of the workforce.
One week has passed since the incident and to the workforce, management has pretty much dismissed the event, not even instituting interim measures to ensure it does not happen again. The summary investigation has been concluded without talking to key personnel actually involved in the issue.
When a worker who has worked for this company for 23 years cannot shutdown a blatantly unsafe job, where workers are in immediate risk, providing color photographs, copies in hand of corporate policies and CAL/OSHA regulations being violated and workers are directed to continue working, there is something wrong.
When the workforce has sent a signed petition to Darbee two months ago, by over half of the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) represented, Operations workforce in the plant stating they believe their management is acting immorally and unethically with no response, something is wrong.
When the Premier survey continues to decline, with no action plan in place to reverse the trend, something is wrong.
What happened to the company I used to work for?
Production continues to trump safety.
With much regret,
23 years at PG&E
Do these sound like the actions of a management team you would trust with the responsibility of a nuclear power plant? The "Premier Survey" referenced in the employee's email is a survey that has been done at least three times in the past two years, and it consistently shows that our workforce overwhelmingly does not trust our management.
If the employees don't trust the management, why would the public?
I do believe it is possible to have safe nuclear power, but not with the current management culture of production at the expense of safety.
I would like to remain anonymous, as I have been the target of harassment in the past for bringing up safety concerns.
PG&E whistle-blower's sorry saga
SCOTT WINOKUR, OF THE EXAMINER STAFF
Published 4:00 am, Tuesday, July 11, 2000
THE heating in my house died on a morning so raw and foggy you'd have thought it was December. The same day, I was at San Francisco's Public Utilities
Commission when an official spoke of brownouts rolling down from the Northwest.
It seemed as if the energy grid was giving up the ghost. I was a happy guy.
I like rusticity and fear technology to the point that I'm not even comfortable with household electrical current. Nickel-cadmium batteries, cell phones and microwave ovens strike me as the devil's work. Anything atomic gives me an anxiety attack.
Near San Luis Obispo, many miles to the south, stands the controversial PG&E nuclear-powered plant called Diablo Canyon. Look at this domed two-unit structure the wrong way, utility critics warn, and it might go nuclear, like a mad monster of Greek myth.
PG&E swears it's safe, despite documented problems. But the bottom line for me is the fact that if Diablo Canyon blows up, melts down or goes sideways, it could be the equivalent of a homicidal next-door neighbor, fallout-wise. Chernobyl comes to mind.
PG&E whistle-blower Neil J. Aiken of Santa Maria is my current hero. For years, Aiken, a licensed senior reactor operator and onetime shift foreman, has battled with his former employer over safety issues. He says the company's bosses put profits first.
A prime example of this unholy tradeoff, Aiken claimed in a recent interview, are the plant's circuit breakers, about 200 sofa-sized contraptions he said assist in delivering emergency power and some operating power to safety-related equipment.
PG&E replaced original General Electric units with cheaper-to-maintain foreign equipment. According to Aiken, the new units are more likely to malfunction in an earthquake or accident.
"You could have multiple failures you wouldn't have experienced with the other circuit breakers," he warned.
So convinced is Aiken of the threat, he attended a shareholders' meeting in 1998 attempting to provide a written account of his concerns. Aiken's report, "Going Critical," which he was blocked from distributing, described a number of potentially grave technical problems and contained some sweeping pronouncements.
It accused the utility of "moral mismanagement" and a reliance on "defective equipment."
PG&E has had a simple, unequivocal response all along. It says Aiken is paranoid - clinically psychotic. It went so far as to hire a psychiatrist who declared the man mentally ill.
Greg Rueger, the utility's top nuclear officer, reaffirmed that position Monday, issuing a statement in which he reminded me that Aiken - who had been "a well-respected . . . employee" - had fared poorly on PG&E's government-mandated "fitness for duty" program.
Aiken was placed on leave - PG&E's kinder, gentler version of the gulag. His career was over. This is what they did to thought criminals in the Soviet Union.
"It floored me," Aiken said. "It's amazing the kind of pressure a corporation can put on you."
Where was the Nuclear Regulatory Commission? Off somewhere inking its rubber-stamp pad. It is the NRC, of course, that regulates nuclear power in the states, not agencies like the San Francisco or California public utilities commissions.
An NRC investigation, the agency reported May 19, concluded that PG&E's decision to crucify Aiken was "not motivated by retaliation for his having raised concerns." This came after the NRC had upheld more than a third of the over 50 alleged safety violations reported by Aiken.
But the federal government has many voices and the Labor Department also weighed in. Unlike the NRC, it isn't in bed with the people it regulates.
In December, the department ruled that Aiken had been mistreated. The utility had smeared him with "biased and incomplete evidence," it said.
He was entitled to $116,000 in back pay, legal bills and damages. PG&E appealed, then fired Aiken.
But the whistle-blower wasn't whipped. All the while, his 1999 lawsuit in San Francisco for wrongful termination and civil-rights violations was wending its way through court.
Aiken had sued here for two principal reasons, said his attorney, Robert Seldon of Washington, D.C.'s Project on Liberty and the Workplace: San Francisco is PG&E's hometown, and local courts are believed more likely to treat whistle-blowers kindly.
After fighting for months, PG&E backed down, agreeing to a secret settlement. It wrote a check intended to shut Aiken's mouth - a big check, I suspect, because it allowed him to retire at 55.
Aiken says he's history now.
"Don't emphasize what was done to me," he asked. "At this point, it's about current and future employees.
"There's a moral dilemma. If you have an employee who dares to hold them accountable, there's no protection. So people are reluctant to speak up."
Not all, fortunately.
PG&E: Corporate Structure & History
Pacific Gas & Electric Company's Executive Summary:
A review of a shameful history
PG&E isn't your average utility company. Up until the mid 1990's it had been the largest privately owned electric utility company in the U.S. with over 4 million customers, covering 2/3rds of California. The company has played a major role in shaping California and its political climate during the 20th century.
Electricity and its development has been the single most important political and technological event in american history. The incorporated version of how the electrification of society should proceed is at the heart of a culture gone awry with its misuse of power.
One hundred years ago, at the dawn of the electrical revolution, the Southern Pacific Railroad company's big four, Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford and Colis Huntington had a complete monopoly on the politics and economy of California. They owned the banks, judges, politicians and transportation system of the state. They also held deeds to 1/5 of its arable land.
The Southern Pacific Crowd joined forces with J.P. Morgan and European financiers who were using vast amounts of royalist money to build up and take financial control of America's corporations. This unholy alliance of royalist influence over command and control of corporate structure was also behind the creation of PG&E and its primary roll model, the english controlled General Electric company, which is the largest company in the world today.
This gigantic company hitched its values and vision to the monopolistic agenda of the Southern Pacific Railroad Robber Barrons of the 19th century. These men turned one of the most beautiful places on earth into a haven for huge corporations that have trapped humans into a deadly treadmill of economic servitude.
PG&E and America's privately own electric power industry have been given a very special historical relationship. This is the only industry in America that has been given the right to be a regional monopoly. This historic right is imbedded at the heart of the longest, bitterest ideological battle in American history. The super elite power brokers that own this country had also owned the country's water distribution system at the turn of the century, but lost it when the progressive movement municipalized this indespensible utiity. The battle to do the same thing with electricity and phones also failed.
PG&E's version of the American Dream is to use their wealth and power to dominate the focus and direction of our culture. On page 327 of PG&E's own 1952 biography, they label competition as "destructive". You can be assured that they are talking about anyone or any political movement that might get in the company's century old monopoly over electric power in California.
Most of the documentation here covering PG&E is based upon the barely known historical fact that California was conquered by corporate activists that have ruled this state like no other. The fact that only 4 democrats have ever been elected as governor in its 150 year history, even though they have made up the vast majority of its voters for the last 70 years is a testiment to the economic power that has been wielded here.
Since the death of the original big four (Crocker, Huntington, Hopkins and Stanford) a century ago, the corporate criminals that brutally took this state have gone onto institutionalize their style to the point that elitist corporate values are now considered the norm rather than the perversion they truly are. The California Dream is a state of mind where its citizens have been fed only a portion of the state's corporate controlled history. The part that plays down the huge scandals and poltical war that has been waged upon its workers and average people.
This document opens up a small glimpse into the despicable actions of the Pacific Crowd (Southern Pacific, Pacific Bell and PG&E). focussing on PG&E and how their greedy agenda has shaped this state.
The New Era
But at the dawn of the new millenium their shared plan to escape regulatory "hell" has gone up in flames. After taking over $5 billion in assets out of the state, using the money to buy into the New England electric market, what was left of PG&E in California declared bankruptcy as a result of Enron attempt to take over the state's power market. The shared plan, is the strategic globalization plan that has been pushing government deregulation at the same time the World Trade Organization has been setting up its version of George Bush's New World Order.
PG&E's corporate history, from the moment of its birth up to the present, has been linked to its willingness to do just about anything to protect its self perceived business interests. What made this dispicable agenda possible is the fact that San Francisco was ruled by brutal men whose drive for wealth and power was the only game in town from the 1850's right up to PG&E's formation in 1905.
Much as the 1960's was a reaction to war and cultural stagnancy, the progressive era from 1900 to 1930 was a reaction to the brutal robber barrons that ran California and the country. Decent people here in California could no longer stand idly by as Southern Pacific's Big four and their cronies were creating their own version of a royalist super elite empire.
The very schemers that created PG&E became the centerpiece of change as San Francisco squared off around PG&E's employee Abe Ruef and the rest of the corrupt Southern Pacific crowd. Boss Ruef was put on trial as were hundreds of Pacific insiders after, the just formed, company's gas mains burned 20,000 city blocks down on April 18th 1906. Ruef was the only person to serve time while the rest of SP elite were able to escape prosecution due to its political and economic control over the state and San Francisco.
The creation of PG&E was organized by SP's Crocker family with the intent of taking over the 50 year old San Francisco Gas & Electric Company. California Gas & Electric (CG&E) was formed in 1901 as a consolidation of Crocker and SP utilities from Sacramento to San Jose, with the intent of getting control of the huge San Francisco electric market by swallowing up SFG&E. In just under 4 years this was completed as CG&E took over SFG&E in the fall of 1905, with the new entity to be called PG&E. At the same time PG&E's lawyer Boss Ruef was bribing the S.F. Board of Supervisors around of the cities street light contract. PG&E's newly aquired gas run street lights then proceeded to burn down 20,000 city blocks a couple of months later when the Great `06 quake hit.
What a wonderful start for such a bunch of monsters!
The company's intimate corporate agenda has made the financial empire behind the men at PG&E one of the most brutal around. Its direct ties to the old Southern Pacific empire gave the company its guiding values for its role in California.
In 1937, a depression era congressional investigative committee called the TNEC incorrectly placed control of both Southern California Edison and PG&E in the hands of SP's Crocker Family. They weren't far off. The Crockers did carry out a major role in its formation, but there are much bigger fish that had quietly taken up position in California in 1900.
At the time, the original big 4 of Southern Pacific, that had built the western half of the first transcontinental railroad, taken control of 20% of the states' land, had a complete monopoly of all land and water transportation to California, ruled California's state government and held control of most of the state's financial resources, was dying of old age. The Rockefellers and Morgan empires were eager to come in and take on the financial underwear of the SP and did, when Collis P. Huntington, the last of the SP's big four died in 1900.
As Edward Harriman completed the purchase of SP in 1902, another New Yorker, named NW Halsey initiated the process that led to the formation of PG&E in 1906. By 1916, National City Company was firmly in the driver seat of PG&E. Today National is known as CitiCorp. National had been known as one of John D. Rockefeller's bank. But Teddy Roosevelt had forced John to get rid of the bank, which he gave to his brother, who just happened to be tight buddies with J.P. Morgan.
National went onto to be the star financial front via a series of economic structures set up by Morgan that by 1930 had control over 50% of all electric utility investments in the U.S.
The battle for the heart and soul of California will be set aside for the moment, to briefly describe some of the wonderful civic achievments of PG&E and its honorable men of power.
Here's a list of some of the known scandals:
Abe Ruef Scandal Timeline
SF labor leader Tom Mooney fingered by PG&E Pinkerton
Organized the Greater California League, spending $500,000 in 1922 to kill statewide initiative drive to municipalize utilities.
coalition leader on changing the history in school text books to protect how American's percieved their role in electric power development
The Takeover of Hetch Hetchy Timeline
led the push in reducing the scale of the Central Valley Project,now part of Western Area Power Administration.
The utility gained its huge size by taking over locally owned power companies from Santa Barbara in the South to Eureka in the north.
The agressive takeover of Friant and Shasta dam electricity that had been destined for rural coops in northern california
The coalition leader in developing nuclear power in U.S.
Holds the distinction of being the focus of the first anti-nuclear movement in history, starting in 1958 when they tried to push through 4 nuclear reactors on the epicenter of the 1906 earthquake at Bodeaga Bay.
Its 2nd reactor complex at Humbolt bay was dubbed the dirtiest nuclear reactor in the U.S. and shut down in the late 70's when plutonium was found on children's playground a mile away.
Bribed the Sierra club into allowing the siting of Diablo Canyon at the 2nd to last coastal wilderness in California. The scandal led to David Brower leaving the Sierra Club and forming Friends of the Earth.
Pushed to build over 60 nuclear reactors in its service area. But ended up taking on over 20 years of opposition to its push to build reactors all over the state.
Opposed lifeline electric rates in the state, but failed.
Attempted to take the very law it had helped to pass a few years earlier that limited its ability to construct new reactors in the state, all the way to the U.S. Supreme court, but failed.
Caught in PCB transformer scandals that contaminated a city building and its own workers.
Designed and built the Helms Stored River project, that went nearly 10x's over original budget and killed a score of workers.
Forced to rebuild the Diablo Canyon reactors 3 times, running the cost up from $300 million to $5.8 billion.
A newly hired engineer discovers that PG&E had built the seismic supports for the reactors backwards, just after the Abalone Alliance had completed the largest civil disobedience action in U.S. history.
PG&E is part of a national coalition to permanently privatize a 1920 agreement that would allow municipally owned utilities to bid on over 400 dams nationwide when their 50 operating license came up. The successful campaign ended up giving PGE and SoCalEd over 60 dams here in California.
Ronald Reagan secretly orders the EPA to give the financial strapped utility $2.7 billion to help PG&E finish Diablo Canyon.
The Diablo Canyon operation was allowed to go ahead by Judge Robert Bork. He was famous for being the Nixon's saturday night massacre lawyer that fired the Watergate prosecutor.
Literally every environmental law on the book was waived to allow PG&E to obtain its 2 billion gallon dumping permit into the ocean. The state's regional quality control board refused to allow them to dump water, but was overturned by the state.
The reactors were built near the Hosgri faultline that destroyed Santa Barbara in a 1927 earthquake.
The first time the reactors were turned on, 14,000 Abalone in Diablo Bay were killed. The cove was also home to a sacred Chumash burial area and was the home of the worlds largest oak trees.
In the late 1990's it was disclosed that PG&E had covered up the extent of damages to the coast and Abalone, and was given a $14 million fine. The fine was later reversed.
The company spent $110 million in legal fees to win the Diablo Canyon rate case. The state, which had promised that it would force the utility to eat at least $2 billion of the construction costs settled a deal that gave away the whole house, setting up a $54 billion 30 contract for PG&E.
The 1989 rate settlement led to the steepest rate increases in the country, driving electric costs from 8 cents a kwh to over 14 cents by 1994.
This huge increase led to the revolt of big electric users, that in turn caused the disasterous Wilson deregulation plan.
PG&E was a coalition partner in destroying the grassroots based alternative energy movement in the state that was culminated in their FERC appeal that killed PURPA contracts in the state in 1994.
PG&E took the national lead in the mid 80's, with their U.S. Supreme Court case that killed Citizen Utility Board's across the country. The Nader inspired CUB's had succesfully gained access to PG&E's electric bill here when the CPUC allowed TURN to do inserts.
PG&E's was part of a coalition of California corporations that sponsored the Pacific Legal Foundation and its SLAP suit against the Abalone Alliance that put it out of existance.
PG&E was part of the inside coaliton of organizers, with the help of Palo Based EPRI, in the national agenda to deregulate the electric industry.
The San Diego team of Steve Peace and Governor Wilson led the team plan to give the state's utilities the disasterous deregulation mess. It included a $28 billion bonus to cover all the construction costs of Diablo Canyon and SoCal Eds' SONGS reactors.
Check out the Julia Roberts movie for more scandals that contaminated over 1,000 workers with Chromium contamination
Oh, yes and its spent large amounts of money many many times to defeat public power initiatives in San Francisco and elsewhere
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§Daly City Site Draws Anger of Neighbors / Tainted soil being exposed by PG&E , they say
Sunday Oct 31st, 2010 6:01 AM
Daly City Site Draws Anger of Neighbors / Tainted soil being exposed, they say
Daly City Site Draws Anger of Neighbors
Tainted soil being exposed, they say
Angelica Pence, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 5, 0
Daly City housing project residents say exposed soil is tainted.
Studies find new test for cervical cancer beats pap smear.
Call for blood donations called "very critical."
Study finds possible genetic cause for high lung cancer risk in women.
Old bull cells found not too old to clone.
(10-19) 04:00 PDT DALY CITY -- Irate residents of a Daly City housing project led a demonstration yesterday to protest nearby construction that they say is the latest example of decades of economic and environmental racism.
More than two dozen people representing Midway Village held up signs and blocked the entrance to a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. construction site during a morning rain. The power company is overturning contaminated soil, which many residents hold responsible for a slew of health problems suffered by the project's 150 low- income families.
Some of the dirt and groundwater being dug up is known to contain the carcinogen polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, or PNAs. Protesters say the pollutant is also buried beneath residents' homes and in nearby Bayshore Park, giving Midway Village residents tumors, breathing problems, bloody noses, rashes and other illnesses.
Lula Bishop, whose home sits only about 10 feet away from the construction site, woke up with feelings of nausea yesterday morning after breathing fumes she said have come from the site since workers began excavation.
``We're in a medical emergency,'' said Bishop, who has lived in Midway Village since 1977. ``Our kids are getting sick. They have rashes our doctors can't explain. We suffer from cancers. Something has to be done.''
The county built the housing complex in 1976 on a parcel of land that included the site of a former PG&E plant, which had deposited coal tar and soot into the soil before closing in 1913. PG&E found the waste in 1980 and a decade later notified county officials that the soil near Midway Village was polluted with suspected carcinogens.
The residents' most recent lawsuit against the San Mateo County Housing Authority and PG&E was dismissed in 1997 after a judge ruled that the residents failed to link the chemical exposure to their maladies.
John Martin, Daly City manager, said more than $160,000 has been spent on safety measures to prevent Midway Village residents from coming into contact with the chemicals during the project, which is to enlarge an outdated storm drainage system.
The state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is overseeing the cleanup of contaminated soil, according to the department's project manager, Alfred Wanger.
Workers are watering down the work site and covering it with tarps and metal plates at the end of the workday, Wanger said, as well as monitoring the air quality to make sure any contaminated particles in the soil do not become airborne. At Bayshore Park, a 10-foot fence was also erected to keep people from getting too close to the excavation.
The project, which got under way in mid-October, was originally to be completed in three to four weeks, Wanger said. The agency has been forced to push back the completion date in part because of the continuing protests, he said, noting that pickets have blocked trucks sent in to haul away the toxic soil.
State officials also offered to temporarily relocate residents who live directly adjacent to the construction site. But of 16 families eligible for the transfer, only two volunteered to move, said Otis Jackson, spokesman for the department, which is under the California Environmental Protection Agency.
Some Midway Village residents said the offer was too little, too late. For years now, they have been seeking compensation for their ailments and are asking to be permanently moved from the area. They also want any medical expenses incurred as a result of the toxic soil paid for by those responsible.
Demonstrators hope the protest -- the seventh such action in the past few weeks -- will keep the spotlight on the residents' drawn- out battle with PG&E and the county Housing Authority over the soil.
Officials have shown ``a callous disregard for the health and well- being of those who live here,'' said Bradley Angel, spokesman for Greenaction, a health and environmental justice group.
Midway Village residents ``are prisoners of their low-income status,'' he said. ``If this were a rich, white community, do you think they'd be forced to live on toxic soil for generations?''
Activists called for the closure of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, public worker control of our utilities and energy and for criminal prosecution of PG&E executives and managers.
Darbee and other corporate criminal at PG&E get away with murder. Are they above he law?
PG&E terrorizes and intimidates workers at the company who whistle blow and also prevents workers from getting other jobs.