A movement to eradicate racism together

WORKING THROUGH BILL 168-My Story cont’d

“Look, i’m really sorry this is happening to you but if they catch us talking, i’ll get in trouble!”

Every day some aspect of my job changed. I was sent off site to attend to something and by the time I returned, staff meetings were over, decisions made and tasks assigned without any opportunity for me tp participate or to have meaningful dialogue with my colleagues. I recalled feeling very isolated a few months prior, when my Supervisor moved my office to another area and occupied the office I had been using.  Now, I believed,  there  was more to the plan.  I decided to check in with a colleague who was working in a similar job. As I approached her, she quickly turned and walked away. I called to her and she stopped, slowly turned to me and quickly glanced up and down the hallway. I asked if she was ok. She slightly nodded at the camera above the exit doorway and said in a hushed voice, ” Look, i’m really sorry this is happening to you but, if they catch us talking  i’ll get in trouble.”  It stopped me in mid stride. I was shocked. I didn’t have words. It took everything inside of me to keep walking right through the exit door and back to my office.

 I began to feel a change in the environment. I realized so much of my focus was on my issues with management that I had not picked up on the growing distance with  my co-workers. I replayed the scenario in my mind. I felt something uneasy in my stomache.  As I was thinking about how to address the issue, I received an email to attend the “Supervision Meeting”.  I received a follow-up voice message, a few moments later that my attendance was mandatory and upper management would also attend, for my support. Again I searched for union support but, couldn’t find anyone to help me. Then, I received a call from one of the lawyers  that I had previously left a voice message for. This is how it went…

He said his name, which I will change for the purpose of publishing this information and call him AB. I thanked AB for calling me back and attempted to tell him my story. He politely asked me to stop. He told me he would like to hear my story and to help me but, I had to call his office back to book an appointment through his secretary and bring $350 dollars and my questions, comments and concerns to the half hour appointment.  He went on to say that “if” he decided to take my case on, I would need a  $5,000 retainer.  Could I ask a question? NOPE. He said he would only listen and answer questions at the appointment. Thank you very much. Goodbye and have a nice day! I called the other two lawyers on my list. Got voicemail again for one of them, the other lawyer became a live voice on the phone. He said he tried to call me earlier. I felt a gentle tone in his voice. I believed him. For the purpose of this publishing this information, I will refer to him as Ian W.  This is how it went…

He asked how he could help me.  His voice seemed laden with compassion fatigue. For the next, uninterrupted 5 minutes,  he actually listened to me. He asked if there was a union involved with the agency.  I struggled with saying “yes”. He seemed to pick up on it. He acknowledged how difficult it must be for me. He walked me through the way the system works in regards to Bill 168. In a Unionized workplace, the union is the only alternative however, a lawyer could motivate the union and expedite the process. He encouraged me to keep notes about everything, not to sign anything that I was not comfortable with and he said I should continue to “hound” the union to get support. When I asked if he would be able to help me, he apologized. His plate was overflowing. I burst into tears…he  appologized again and quietly remained on the line. He asked if I would be ok.  The  last piece of advice he offered was for me to ask  myself  if  it was worth my health to keep fighting  or  would it be better for me to walk away…

I splashed my face with cold water in the bathroom and looked in the mirror.  The absolute last thing I wanted to convey was a sense of being  overwhelmed. Even if I was. I pulled my loc’s into a knot at the top of my head, pinched some colour into my cheeks and practised my smile. I said a quick prayer and headed to the meeting with my Supervisor.  They were waiting for me the Supervisor and Executive Director. They smiled as I slid into a chair, on the other side of the desk.

It was just a matter of  reviewing my job expectations and signing off,  my Supervisor said apologetically. I will never forget the look on her face, pop-eyed, pasty smile.  I listened  as she went through a list of “new” expectations, which seemed very unusual.  My hours would change, my workload re-distributed, my correspondence screened and job related concerns would be processed only through my Supervisor, directly.  I mentioned the section of the collective agreement that addressed  my hours. I asked if other Housing Workers were expected to work under the same conditions? I asked for an example of other workers having their correspondence screened? I mentioned the message it sends to community partners  and asked why  I would be the only Housing Worker to have this kind of restriction. I asked why I was being excluded from meetings?  I said that I was being bullied and harassed and  there was no way that I would agree to process conflicts  without third-party involvement. I refused to sign anything, thanked them very much and walked away. Halfway down the hall, I my name was called, gently.  As I swung around, I could see the executive director walking towards me. I felt my body tighten. She said she had a solution that might work for everyone involved. I said I was listening.  She suggested Conflict Resolution. I said I wanted to speak to my Union Representative.  She she quoted a recent correspondence from the union head office that my representative was still on indefinite  leave and there was no mention of a replacement. I felt tired. I couldn’t think  clearly or find a reason to disagree. I gave in…TO BE CONTINUED 



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One thought on “WORKING THROUGH BILL 168-My Story cont’d

  1. Hello there friend. I find the posts here awsome and up to date. I am shocked that you do not get more comments, but I guess that the battle is harsh these days. All the best.

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