Health risks and abuse at work

March 7, 2008

WE RECEIVED the following articles from workers at the same hotel in San Francisco. Both asked to remain anonymous.

I WORK at a non-union hotel in San Francisco. My co-worker, Tammy, works three daytime shifts and two graveyard shifts per week at the front desk.

Recently, we have had wood stainers spraying toxic fumes all over the lobby in the middle of the night while the front doors remain wide open during the colder, rainy season. There was nothing provided to protect the front-desk employees. Not surprisingly, she got pretty sick.

She had been working here for almost four months, and for the first time ever, she called in sick for her graveyard shift. A few days later, over the company e-mail, our general manager's response to this was accidentally included in one of the front office manager's e-mails.

He wrote, "While I don't know the details around why Tammy couldn't make it in for her night audit shift, I'm disappointed to hear she is comfortable calling in sick for that critical coverage. You should be near death, in my opinion, if you're going to do that." Apparently, we should put our jobs above everything except death.

The ability to accrue paid sick-leave hours began to be enforced in San Francisco in February of last year. But as it turns out, without some sort of organization protecting a worker's right to their sick leave, the wrath of management can still affect their job security.

Tammy, fortunately, has not been fired, but she has also not called in sick since then, even though she has every right to. Despite whatever laws exist to protect workers, without a union, our job security is still at the mercy of our managers.

A COWORKER of mine told me I should write a letter to you to let you know about the bad conditions of the hotel I work for in San Francisco.

I had a situation with my general manager. I got suspended for a few days and demoted over a shopper report (when a "mystery shopper" comes in to make sure we are annoyingly happy, hardworking employees). Apparently, my score was about 39 percent, and my general manager said that he could he get me fired over this. He didn't even ask if we were understaffed or super busy when the shopper came in, which we were.

I feel he is extra tough on me since I am a Latino. I feel discriminated against in a lot ways because of this.

Ever since this manager came to this hotel, he has said honestly that he can do whatever he wants with anybody. I want to know how this man became a dictator and can keep abusing people with his nasty e-mails and unfair suspensions and demotions. It would be very nice to have this man being watched by a union--or, for now, by this paper--so he can stop abusing his power.

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