Years ago I worked in a factory that made fish tanks. Basically, it was a terrible place to work. People were breathing in glass dust, getting injured and working for no benefits, terrible pay in lousy working conditions. There was a recession going on, jobs were scarce and the employer knew it. It was good having a job. They needed us to make their fish tanks. We had bills to pay, it was a job. But, no way were we appreciated. It was kind of like things are today.
Every year my old employer gave each employee a “free” turkey at Thanksgiving.
Some of us talked about forming a union. We wanted to get more people to sign cards for an election. Several of the employees held back, not because the employer was treating them well but because, “the company is not all bad, after all, they give us a free turkey.” Despite the fact that I was supporting a young family, I wanted nothing to do with the damn turkey. I learned how employers can throw crumbs to people and in return some folks will give them their souls.
I feel the same about the so-called staff appreciation breakfast being put on tomorrow for SJSU staff, while at the same time the CSU is looking to raise parking fees 400% or more, pay is stagnated and the faculty are having rolling strikes at CSU campus.
Just as I felt when I worked at the fish take factory, I appreciate the job, but I do not feel appreciated. Then as now, it was a job. Don’t lie to me and tell me we are appreciated. They can put that breakfast the same place I suggested my former employer put their turkey.
- October 25, 2011 4:30 p.m.
- The batteries have been replaced and I received a call from the head electrician (whom I trust) who said they have been tested and the emergency lights now work. All that to get some batteries replaced. So, this will close the matter with regards to this one lab.
However, the bigger question still remains about the status of all other emergency lighting systems on campus. I have requested, on behalf of the union, a status report for the entire campus. I suspect that what happened in Clark may be a symptom of a larger issue of deferred maintenance on, and neglect of, emergency systems at SJSU.
- October 25, 2011 2:35 p.m.
- Guess what, after my calling in CalOSHA and threatening to go to the Spartan Daily, they replaced the batteries (not bulbs.) They made it a priority.
- October 25, 2011, 12:05 p.m.
- According to a reliable source: “The bulbs for the emergency egress lights in Clark Hall 102 have been ordered and will be delivered at 2:00pm today. By 4:00pm today, the Electricians will have the lights installed and checked.”
On October 21, 2011 there was a power outage that affected Clark Hall. At the time the power went out, well over half the emergency lights on the first floor of Clark Hall failed to come on. Since daylight savings time will be ending soon and the lab is sometimes heavily used at night; if this had been an emergency much of the room would have been plunged into darkness.
So few lights worked, this could be a very hazardous situation in the event of an emergency. This was immediately reported.
As a union shop steward I suggested, effective immediately, not allowing this facility be occupied at times of darkness until this hazard is rectified. Staff likely would not be able to safely initiate evacuation safely in the facility in the event of an emergency under such conditions.
I asked management to please get this resolved as soon as possible. I included a copy of the related FD&O work order as well as shots of a couple of the lights that failed to illuminate and the peer mentor work area. The pictures were taken with a flash; of course.
Three days later nothing had happened and no action had been taken by the university. I called CalOSHA and filed a complaint and again followed up with university management. After I called CalOSHA the university started addressing the issue. I spoke with David L. Krack, the director of Environmental Health and Safety at SJSU’s Facilities Development and Operations (FD&O).
The head electrician came over and inspected the emergency lights four days after the hazard had been reported. In response to my conversation with the head electrician I sent Krack the following in an e-mail:
After my conversation with the head electrician (after FD&O inspected the emergency egress lighting in Clark Hall 102) it seems possible batteries may not be immediately available for the failed backup lights in Clark Hall 102. I want to be clear on what we expect to happen if this situation is not remedied today.
We expect that Clark Hall 102 will close at 6:30 p.m. today, and before dark every day, until this situation is corrected. Safe operation of the facility is dependent on the presence of functioning emergency egress lighting after dark.
I am sure the safety of our students who use the lab as well as the employees who work in the facility is our shared first priority.
Last night the popular computer lab had another power failure. According to a staff member the area was plunged into darkness. That is simply not acceptable.
Bike riding in buildings
Three years ago, on April 18, 2008 I took the photo above of an SJSU faculty member riding his bicycle on campus, in Clark Hall where he works. He was riding down the hall and rode his bicycle out the front door.
Well, three years later he is still doing it, he rode his bicycle into Clark Hall, down the hall to the elevator this morning, April 22, 2011. His office is on the fourth floor of Clark Hall.
His apparent disregard for basic safety, SJSU’s bicycle policies, not to mention the threat to people with disabilities who may not have been able to see him coming, or might have not been able to get out of his way, goes without saying. That the university tolerates this is inexcusable. But, it’s Earth Day. Right? We should allow this, right? It saves gas, right?
Umm, according to this professor, he is commuting from his car which he parks a few blocks away. He saves on parking that way.
A health and safety grievance has been filed on this matter. I will keep university employees informed of the progress of that grievance.
I am a liberal, a democrat and a union steward.
So, you can imagine; I have been called a whiner many, many times. I consider it a compliment. That’s a big reason I blog. Blogs can be great places to whine.
Many people are afraid of confrontation. They will remain silent even when they see problems. In my opinion a strong organization is one that confronts problems. But, how does an organization know it has a problem? It embraces its whiners.
The whiners are your canaries in the coal mine, your first line of alert. So, if you call me a whiner don’t be surprised if I say, why thank you.
Organizations who recognize the value of whiners and provide them with a venue; have a lot to gain. Those who don’t, risk finding much harsher critics; their customers.
In my opinion no matter what kind of organization it is, a union or a nation, criticism is a good thing; it means people care. Care should to be taken to criticize the process, not the person. Critics and leaders should try to check their egos at the door. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and are entitled to voice their opinion. Critics and leaders are advised to not imply malice without very, very strong evidence. Leaders in an organization that is the subject of criticism should not take criticism personal. It is not personal and it does not mean your efforts are not appreciated. All criticism means is that somebody thinks something should be different. Hey, the critic may be wrong! But, at least give the idea some consideration. At least the critic cares enough to voice an opinion. That is a good thing. Sometimes, I know rarely, it is possible the critic may be right. A little thick skin is recommended for all involved. Today’s critic may be tomorrows leader, or not.
Click on photo to enlarge
I have so many wonderful memories of my mom. She was a regular Norma Rae. Pauline was an Irish American working woman who was a lifetime member of the United Steelworker’s Union. I still have her union card.
I remember her working the picket line when her plant went on strike. She was president of her union local. She also liked to drink beer and smoked. It was that last part that killed her.
Despite her working she was old school. She did all the cooking and cleaning and waited on my father. Even though she was a fireball in the workplace she was afraid of driving and did not learn to drive until she was in her forties. When my father was hospitalized in San Francisco she drove to the city to visit him even though the drive terrified her. I sat in the back seat and was given the job of giving the money to the toll taker on the Bay Bridge. Once she drove away from the toll both before we completed that transaction.
My first wife Candy took care of my mom when she was dying. Candy discovered her one morning in the living room. She had apparently had gotten up in the middle of the night to have one last cigarette.