November 16, 2015
Open Letter to:
President Joe Robertson
OHSU Board of Directors
Members of AFSCME Local 328
Subject: Abusive and Degrading Treatment of Environmental Services Employees
For far too long, employees of the Environmental Services Department (EVS) at OHSU have been subject to abusive, degrading, unsafe and unethical treatment by their management staff.
- Employees are frequently yelled at loudly in front of coworkers.
- Managers play favorites and give easier assignments to favored staff.
- Managers appear to use assignments to punish or reward employees based on personal favoritism. For example, a supervisor was heard to say, “I like to play games. I know what to do. Next Saturday she will work her schedule all alone.”
- Managers are not following the union contract in posting positions, awarding overtime or scheduling holidays. Employees are afraid to assert their contractual rights due to fear of retaliation.
- Managers call their employees “stupid” or “lazy.”
- Employees in EVS are being required to use a cleaning chemical that causes burns to the arms and face. Other employees have said the chemical makes their throats and eyes burn.
- A supervisor was overheard telling an employee that the union couldn’t help them.
- Employees are denied keys to areas they need to access to dispose of biohazardous waste. As a result, this waste often places others at risk while keys are being delivered or employees travel to the office to get keys — biohazards are left unattended or are transported through the hospital twice before being disposed of.
- Bedmakers do not have a break room. When they use break rooms in areas where they are working, other staff complain about their presence.
- A supervisor grabbed an employee by the shoulders and physically forced her to kneel in front of other OHSU employees, including a charge nurse, and scrub baseboards on her hands and knees while she wept. This is not the only time this kind of thing has happened to her.
- Employees are in fear of unwanted touch, thrown objects, and unwanted physical horseplay by supervisors and lead workers.
- Managers let positions go unfilled, job bids go unawarded. Employees are so rushed that they are forced to bypass safety protocols to avoid public humiliation for not getting their assignment completed.
- An employee told a supervisor she was feeling ill with a cough and runny nose and believed she had the start of a cold or flu. She asked to be removed from her regular assignment in Doernbecher Children’s Hospital due to the onset of this illness, because she had been told if you are sick you can’t work in patient-care areas. Her supervisor told her that if anyone asked if she was sick, she was to say it was an allergy. This is a very young member who does not want to lose her job. A patient’s mother noticed the employee’s condition and expressed concern that her child, who was already ill, would be made more ill by the member’s presence.
EVS employees have complained to management about these conditions. They have signed petitions. They have spoken to AFSCME staff representatives.
AFSCME staff have reported these conditions to OHSU Human Resources. Nothing has been done.
AFSCME staff have attempted to meet with Pete Hazel, the department director. Pete Hazel refused to meet with staff, but he did agree to meet with a steward who is an EVS employee. Still, nothing has been done.
Nothing has been done. Not by the department head. Not by Human Resources.
Other avenues of complaint, such as the Integrity Office, simply turf the complaint back to HR, by policy. The Integrity Office at OHSU doesn’t investigate claims of supervisor abuse of employees. Don’t ask us why.
So here is the plan:
The union is going to visibly support EVS employees.
- We will be in the hallway when they come to work and when they leave for their assignments. (We won’t stop them or interfere in their work in any way, but they will see us.) Maybe some of you reading this will join us.
- We are going to use social media over the next few weeks to expose specific wrongdoing so that no one at OHSU will have an excuse to be ignorant of the abuse happening to EVS employees.
- We will issue buttons, stickers and flyers to the OHSU community asking them to support EVS employees.
- We will train and encourage EVS employees to file complaints with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, since the OHSU Integrity Office is prevented from handling their complaints. Prevented — not uninterested, prevented.
- We will train EVS employees to call OHSU Public Safety when they are intimidated, bullied, threatened or otherwise made to feel fear while at work.
- We will render every assistance and support, publically and privately, that we can think of and muster until the EVS department itself gets a housecleaning. We don’t care if you are a department head, manager, supervisor, Aramark mole or, sadly, union lead worker: you will start acting like civilized adult human beings or we will continue until you are gone.
Let’s be clear: OHSU knows about this treatment and tolerates it. EVS employees are good workers. They represent many races, cultures, languages and faiths. They work together and they work hard. They don’t deserve to be treated this way. No OHSU employee does.
We are watching and we will not let them down.
AFSCME Local 328