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Speaking Out On Racism & Discrimination
at SF PUC Water Pollution Plant

by Anita Labossiere, member IFPTE Local 21 a_labossiere@yahoo.com

Statement: Update on Dealing with Racism in the Water; Waste Plants
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
December 1, 2003

I, ANITA LABOSSIERE, HAVE been working for the San Francisco Water Pollution Control Bureau for over 23 years, as the only African American Supervising Chemist.   In the City & County of San Francisco, there is a well organized plan to harass any minorities, minority supervisors and employees who supports us black cases, by the managers of the City.

After I wrote the article in this newspaper, Dealing with Racism in the Water; Waste Plants
http://www.sfbayview.com/082003/workingforthecity082003.shtml I have been kept away from work by the managers at PUC.   They are using every legal and illegal trick to keep me from returning to work from my personal leave. I received approval and OK from my first Doctor that I could return to work. I brought the paper in to Ruby Ponce, and two days later my Doctor called me up and told that the Managers ( Phil Caskey, Nirmela Arsem, Michael Lum, working under Therese Madden ) spoke to her about my medical condition. In all my years of working for the City this has never happened, where my civil rights are being ignored. And all of My Civil Service Rights are being smashed.   Management manipulated my Doctor into telling a lie about my medical diagnosis.  As of today, in violation of my doctor/client rights, the entire plant knows about my Doctorıs diagnosis.  (No one at work should have knowledge about my medical diagnosis - it was confidential, private and personal.)

I stand accused of violence, even though I am not violent in any way.  There is no truth in this diagnosis. Many Doctors completely misdiagnose a personıs health. In the Black Community, the statistics are very alarmingly high - showing a lack of understanding of being Black in a white society. Therese Madden and I have worked together over the past 18 years, and she knows my work history.   This could have and should have been resolved differently.

This is another attempt by management to take my job - "see the Doctor says sheıs sick."  (My Doctor only said that because City Managers said that they were going to use this information to help [?] me).

Ten months ago, I had a lone talk with my Director, Phil Caskey, about my reservations concerning his appointment of  Nirmela Arsem - making her my immediate supervisor.  Nirmela Arsem and I have had a very turbulent relationship, from day one.  She has never had any respect for me as her immediate supervisor even though I was the one who originally hired her.  I felt that Nirmela Arsem has never respected me and   undermined me, at every opportunity, when I was her African American Supervisor.

During Nirmela Arsemıs first 4 months of being my manager, she has written me up for missing one meeting and is taking me through a Skelly Hearing. And she wants me to get a 10 days suspension. Before Nirmela Arsem become my supervisor, I got along with everyone and received 5 awards for my quality assurance program.   I should never have to work in this living HELL!!!!!!!

³You are damned if you do and damned if donıt.²
The following poem explains my feelings, I feel like I am a strange fruit swinginı in the southern breeze:

Strange fruits
Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin' in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant south....

PUC Personnel, under Theses Madden & Michael Lum and the Bureau of Water Quality Managers Phil Caskey & Nirmela Arsem has refused to allow me to return to work, I was on a leave of absence bought on by stress. There are many black employees throughout the City are going through what I am going through - Kevin Williams and Leticia Brown, to name a few.   My   case is very typical of how Mayor Willie Brown is ignoring all of the black employeeıs concerns and even allowing them to be fired   on trumped up charges. Unfortunately, we have not gotten any help from Mayor Brown. The PUC needs to conduct an immediate and open investigation/hearing, of this Racism in the Water and Wastewater Plants.

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