FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
30 November 2012
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Housekeepers Successful in Removal of Abusive Manager, Continue to Call for Meaningful Changes to Housekeeping Department.
CHAPEL HILL – 15 rank and file housekeepers from Zone 215 filed a group grievance on November 14, 2012 alleging managerial harassment, verbal abuse, and discrimination from zone manager Juanita Williams and crew leader Annette Reaves.
With the help of UNC Chapel Hill student organization, Student Action with Workers, the housekeepers reached out to local media to share their story.
Although the Housekeeping and Human Resources departments had known about the housekeepers’ complaints of mistreatment for months, nothing had been done to remediate the problems. Yet only days after the housekeepers filed their group grievance and reached out to the community for support, Juanita Williams was fired and Annette Reaves was removed from the zone.
Members of Student Action with Workers met with 17 housekeepers from zone 215 earlier this week to hear how they felt after these changes. It was clear that housekeepers have found some relief. One housekeeper said, “Before everyone wanted to leave, now we like it here, everybody is working together”. While another reported, “Everybody is so happy, before their face was very sad but now they want to come into work”.
While the efforts of Zone 215 proved successful, they recognize it is not enough.
In their grievance housekeepers called for Annette Reaves to be demoted to her previous position of housekeeper so she would not be able to mistreat employees in the future. Instead, she was transferred to another zone, maintaining her supervisory role.
Housekeepers agree that this change is inadequate and doesn’t solve the bigger problem of worker mistreatment. “A problem here is a problem over there,” said one housekeeper,
The University also failed to respond to the final three demands of the housekeepers that address the systematic problems of managerial harassment, disrespect and discrimination that plague the entire housekeeping department.
1) Housekeepers should have a meaningful voice in choosing the supervisors in their zone.
2) A six month supervisor review process should be instated so supervisors are accountable to those in their zone.
3) Reinstate ‘Hostile Work Environment’ as a greivable offense on the grievance form. This category does not require housekeepers to differentiate between race, national origin, or gender divisions, but instead relies on the fundamental principle of human respect and dignity.
For housekeepers in Zone 215 what is clear is that, “All housekeepers are having problems, not just Zone 215, but they are scared and quiet”.
Housekeepers and students will continue to mobilize for meaningful changes to the Housekeeping Department that respond to worker needs and input.