Archive for February, 2014

Workplace Bullying Report

February 27, 2014
This column appears in the February 27 – March 6 edition of the Hartford News… Community Update: The AFSCME Council 4 Workplace Bullying Committee has launched a campaign to get lawmakers at the State Capitol to introduce workplace bullying legislation. Stay tuned for details… Earlier this week I contacted Maribel La Luz, Communications Director for Mayor Pedro Segarra, for an update on the Kennard Ray story. Ray was hired in November as Segarra’s new Deputy Chief of Staff. Ray withdrew his application after sensationalized corporate media reports about his legal history. This totally contradicted the spirit of the city’s Ban the Box ordinance, which is designed to prevent employment discrimination against individuals such as Ray. The Hartford Courant reported  that Segarra’s office issued the following statement, “Sadly, we must accept Mr. Kennard Ray’s withdrawal for the position of Deputy Chief of Staff after learning information that was not initially disclosed. Mr. Ray is a qualified individual with solid references from former supervisors and community leaders. However public servants, especially those in leadership positions, must be held to a higher standard.”
 
Ray had previously worked as political and legislative director for the Connecticut Working Families Party. Lindsey Farrell, director of the Connecticut Working Families Party, criticized the decision. Farrell said, “(Ray) should be judged on the quality of his work and commitment to the community. I think it’s a bad call on their part.”   I contacted La Luz, who told me that Ray’s legal history had nothing to do with him not getting the job and that Segarra had not asked him to withdraw his application. La Luz also denied media reports that Segarra planned to approach the city council about amending Ban the Box and had implemented his own hiring policy in response to the Ray controversy. Following a City Hall rally in support of Ray, I was told by a source that a city council committee led by councilman Larry Deutsch would meet to discuss Ray’s fate. Via email on Tuesday La Luz said, “The Kennard Ray hiring process is done. There is no further action as far as I know.” Deutsch did not respond to an email I sent  to him seeking comment. I’m totally baffled by what in my opinion are the contradictory statements from the Mayor’s Office and the decision not to hire Ray, who has not commented on Segarra.
 
 
This week we’ll share posts from the When the Abuser Goes to Work employment blog. http://abusergoestowork.com/  The Workplace Bullying Institute has introduced various versions of the Healthy Workplace Bill in over 20 states, including Connecticut. The Community Party agrees with workplace bullying activists who believe that HWB in its current form would be ineffective in curbing abusive workplace conduct.

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                                         Nevada’s Proposed Anti-Bully Law

 Nevada State Sen. Richard Segerblom has proposed amending a Nevada law patterned after Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., as amended, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
 Sen. Segerblom wants to provide individuals who can prove they are the victims of a hostile work environment the right to a remedy under the law whether or not they can show illegal discrimination. In other words, he has proposed making the hostile workplace  remedy status-blind.
 Segerblom’s proposed bill defines “abusive conduct” as:
  • Repeated verbal abuse in the form of derogatory  remarks, insults and epithets;
  •  Verbal or physical conduct which is threatening, intimidating, and humiliating; and
  •  The gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work product.
Unless the abuse is particularly egregious, abusive conduct must be directed at the employee target on more than one occasion.
It is not difficult for employers to avoid liability under the proposed bill. The bill states that it is an affirmative defense to an action for abusive conduct in a work environment if the employer:
  • Exercised reasonable care to prevent the abusive conduct; and
  •  Promptly corrected the abusive conduct.
If an employer is found to be liable, the employer could be assessed damages, back pay, costs, and attorney’s fees.
Segerblom’s proposed bill provides significantly more protection  to targets of workpladce bullying  than the  Healthy Workplace Bill proposed by the Workplace Bullying Institute.
 

Original “Healthy Workplace Bill”

SkinnyThis is the original  proposed Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB)  that was drafted by the Professor David C. Yamada of  Suffolk University Law School in Boston, MA, and supported by the Workplace Bullying Institute for almost a decade  at a web site called, The Healthy Workplace Bill.  
A new and much better version of the bill was introduced for consideration by  the Massachusetts legislature in 2013. 
Any state that is considering workplace anti-bully legislation should look to Massachusetts or to Nevada, where Nevada State Senator Richard “Tick” Segerblom  proposed a bill that would give workplace bully targets the same protection and rights as any other victim of a hostile work environment. Nevada’s bill was patterned after Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., as amended, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin and would essentially provide a status-blind remedy for a hostile work environment.
The original HWB is anemic when compared to  legislation  and regulations adopted in other countries  to address workplace bullying.
For one thing, it  would require a victim to provide evidence of malicious intent to bully.  Malice is defined in the proposed bill as “the desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another.”  Part of the “art” of  workplace bullying is subtlety. The target may be the victim of a thousand pin pricks that add up to a mortal wound.  Bullies are notorious for showing one face to the target and another to his/her supervisor. It would be very difficult to prove malice in these situations, and this is not a requirement for “hostile workplace” claims under federal discrimination laws unless the plaintiff is seeking the additional remedy of punitive damages. 
It also would require the target to provide proof of tangible  psychological or physical harm to the plaintiff.  This is not required for other victims of a hostile workplace environment.  In fact, the requirement was expressly rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1993 sexual harassment case.
The U. S. Supreme Court said in 1993 that the protection of federal law “comes into play before the harassing conduct leads to a nervous breakdown.”  The Court also said:  “Certainly Title VII bars conduct that would seriously affect a reasonable person’s psychological well-being, but the statute is not limited to such conduct. So long as the environment would reasonably be perceived, and is perceived, as hostile or abusive … there is no need for it also to be psychologically injurious.” (Harris v. Forklift System,  510 U.S. 17 (1993)).
Any requirement to prove psychological harm would pose a burden for targets who don’t have health care coverage,  the funds to see a therapist or the cultural disposition to seek psychiatric care. According to the Office of Minority Health, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 19.5 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 10.4 percent of non-Hispanic whites were uninsured in 2007.  
An international authority on workplace abuse, Katherine Lippel, says laws in other countries do not have the above restrictions, which would make it far more difficult for a plaintiff  in to prevail in litigation. She says the authors should rethink the bill. Dr. Lippel is the Canada Research Chair in Occupational Health and Safety Law, University of Ottawa, Canada. 
According to Dr. Lippel:  “It is understandable that the difficult context applicable in the United States with regard to rights of workers may favor a more restrictive legislative approach for purposes of political expediency, yet even some authors from the United States have expressed concern with the restrictive conditions proposed in the Healthy Workplace Bill … The actual content of the legislation on workplace bullying, if there is to be legislation, requires reflection.”
Perhaps most troubling about the HWB is the wording of Section 7(b), which limits damages for emotional distress to $25,000 (with no punitive damages)  in  cases where an employer is found to be liable but the target does not suffer an adverse employment action. This  affects targets of bullying who are not demoted or fired. But why?  There is at least one highly publicized case where an alleged target of workplace bullying committed suicide because he thought that he was  going to be demoted or fired. This cap is so low that it would  fail to adequately compensate a target of severe bullying and would not serve as a useful deterrent to employers to halt workplace bullying.
Possibly the above limiting language  reflects a concern by its drafter that employers will fight workplace anti-bullying legislation unless it is sufficiently weak. That hardly seems like a suitable foundation for a bill to address a problem as serious as workplace bullying.
WBI Director Gary Namie and Prof. Yamada declined to comment when asked to explain the reasons for the restrictive provisions of the bill.
 American workers deserve at least the same level of protection as other workers around the world.  The original HWB would leave many targets of workplace bullying with no legal recourse. Advocates should begin from a starting point that all workers have a right to be treated with dignity and respect.
– PGB
_______________

THE HEALTHY WORKPLACE BILL

Section 1 – Preamble
(a) Findings
The Legislature finds that:
(1) The social and economic well-being of the State is dependent upon healthy and productive employees;
(2) Between 37 and 59 percent of employees directly experience health-endangering workplace bullying, abuse, and harassment, and this mistreatment is approximately four times more prevalent than sexual harassment alone;
(3) Workplace bullying, mobbing, and harassment can inflict serious harm upon targeted employees, including feelings of shame and humiliation, severe anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies, impaired immune systems, hypertension, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder.
(4) Abusive work environments can have serious consequences for employers, including reduced employee productivity and morale, higher turnover and absenteeism rates, and increases in medical and workers’ compensation claims;
(5) If mistreated employees who have been subjected to abusive treatment at work cannot establish that the behavior was motivated by race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, or age, they are unlikely to be protected by the law against such mistreatment;
(6) Legal protection from abusive work environments should not be limited to behavior grounded in protected class status as that provided for under employment discrimination statutes;
and,
(7) Existing workers’ compensation plans and common-law tort actions are inadequate to discourage this behavior or to provide adequate relief to employees who have been harmed by abusive work environments.
(b) Purpose
It is the purpose of this Chapter:
(1) To provide legal relief for employees who have been harmed, psychologically, physically, or economically, by being deliberately subjected to abusive work environments;  (2) To provide legal incentive for employers to prevent and respond to abusive mistreatment of employees at work.
Section 2 – Definitions
(a) Abusive work environment. An abusive work environment exists when the defendant, acting with malice, subjects an employee to abusive conduct so severe that it causes tangible harm to the employee.
(1) Abusive conduct. Abusive conduct is conduct, including acts, omissions, or both, that a reasonable person would find hostile, based on the severity, nature, and frequency of the defendant’s conduct. Abusive conduct may include, but is not limited to: repeated infliction of verbal abuse such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets; verbal or physical conduct of a threatening, intimidating, or humiliating nature; the sabotage or undermining of an employee’s work performance; or attempts to exploit a employee’s known psychological or physical vulnerability. A single act normally will not constitute abusive conduct, but an especially severe and egregious act may meet this standard.
(2) Malice. Malice is defined as the desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another.
(b) Tangible harm. Tangible harm is defined as psychological harm or physical harm.
(1) Psychological harm. Psychological harm is the material impairment of a person’s mental health, as established by competent evidence.
(2) Physical harm. Physical harm is the material impairment of a person’s physical health or bodily integrity, as established by competent evidence.
(c) Adverse employment action. An adverse employment action includes, but is not limited to, a termination, demotion, unfavorable reassignment, failure to promote, disciplinary action, or reduction in compensation.
(d) Constructive discharge. A constructive discharge shall be considered a termination, and, therefore, an adverse employment action within the meaning of this Chapter. A constructive discharge exists where: (1) the employee reasonably believed he or she was subjected to abusive conduct; (2) the employee resigned because of that abusive conduct; and, (3) prior to resigning, the  employee brought to the employer’s attention the existence of the abusive conduct and the employer failed to take reasonable steps to correct the situation.
Section 3 – Unlawful Employment Practices
(a) Abusive Work Environment. It shall be an unlawful employment practice under this Chapter to subject an employee to an abusive work environment as defined by this Chapter.
(b) Retaliation. It shall be an unlawful employment practice under this Chapter to retaliate inany manner against an employee who has opposed any unlawful employment practice under this Chapter, or who has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation or proceeding under this Chapter, including, but not limited to, internal complaints and proceedings, arbitration and mediation proceedings, and legal actions.
Section 4 – Employer Liability and Defense
(a) An employer shall be vicariously liable for an unlawful employment practice, as defined by this Chapter, committed by its employee.
(b) Where the alleged unlawful employment practice does not include an adverse employment action, it shall be an affirmative defense for an employer only that:
(1) the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any actionable behavior; and,
(2) the complainant employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of appropriate preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer.
Section 5 – Employee Liability and Defense
(a) An employee may be individually liable for an unlawful employment practice as defined by this Chapter.
(b) It shall be an affirmative defense for an employee only that the employee committed an unlawful employment practice as defined in this Chapter at the direction of the employer, under threat of an adverse employment action.
Section 6 – Affirmative Defenses
It shall be an affirmative defense that:
(a) The complaint is based on an adverse employment action reasonably made for poor performance, misconduct, or economic necessity;
(b) The complaint is based on a reasonable performance evaluation; or,
(c) The complaint is based on a defendant’s reasonable investigation about potentially illegal or unethical activity.
Section 7 – Relief
(a) Relief generally. Where a defendant has been found to have committed an unlawful employment practice under this Chapter, the court may enjoin the defendant from engaging in the unlawful employment practice and may order any other relief that is deemed appropriate, including, but not limited to, reinstatement, removal of the offending party from the complainant’s work environment, back pay, front pay, medical expenses, compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.
(b) Employer liability. Where an employer has been found to have committed an unlawful employment practice under this Chapter that did not culminate in an adverse employment action, its liability for damages for emotional distress shall not exceed $25,000, and it shall not be subject to punitive damages. This provision does not apply to individually named employee defendants.
Section 8 – Procedures
(a) Private right of action. This Chapter shall be enforced solely by a private right of action.
(b) Time limitations. An action commenced under this Chapter must be commenced no later than one year after the last act that constitutes the alleged unlawful employment practice.
Section 9 – Effect on Other Legal Relationships
The remedies provided for in this Chapter shall be in addition to any remedies provided under any other law, and nothing in this Chapter shall relieve any person from any liability, duty, penalty or punishment provided by any other law, except that if an employee receives workers’ compensation for medical costs for the same injury or illness pursuant to both this Chapter and the workers’ compensation law, or compensation under both this Chapter and that law in cash payments for the same period of time not working as a result of the compensable injury or illness or the unlawful employment practice, the payments of workers’ compensation shall be reimbursed from compensation paid under this Chapter.
 
 
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                                                                                              ACTION ALERT!               

 
 
We need folks to contact the Judiciary Committee and urge them to introduce the Community Party’s Trayvon Martin Act during the legislative session. Hartford residents call and email committee Chair Sen. Eric Coleman http://www.senatedems.ct.gov/Coleman.php and Vice Chair Rep. Matt Ritter http://www.housedems.ct.gov/RitterM/ .  The contact info for the other committee members can be viewed here. http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/MemberList.asp?comm_code=JUD You can read our bill language here. https://www.facebook.com/notes/stop-racial-profiling-obey-the-law/community-party-trayvon-martin-act-bill-language/617004948349355
 
Contact the Labor and Public Employees Committee and tell them to include CP’s Safe Work Environment Act amendments with any workplace bullying legislation introduced in 2014. Our legislation would remove the Healthy Workplace Bill requirement that an employee must prove malice and intent by an employer, which is basically impossible. Our language would also eliminate the HWB stipulation that an employee must provide proof of damage to their physical / psychological health. The federal employment discrimination law does not include either of the HWB provisions, which provide loopholes for abusive employers. We also want lawmakers to create a workplace bullying advisory board, which would solicit and implement input from public employees when they recommend future legislation. Municipal employees should tell committee members to expand the scope of any legislation introduced this year to include city employees, in addition to state workers. City teachers have reported rampant workplace bullying at Capital Preparatory Magnet School.   https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/jonathan-pelto-talks-about-rep-matt-ritters-workplace-bullying-town-hall-january-27/ Hartford residents should call and email labor committee member Rep. Brandon McGee. http://www.housedems.ct.gov/McGee/  The contact info for the other committee members can be viewed here. http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/MemberList.asp?comm_code=LAB
 
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines and updates on the status of our Trayvon Martin Act and Safe Work Environment Act, including action alerts. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1    Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives. https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com.
 
Resources
 
Cornell Lewis’ DCF Plantation blog (includes data charts):
 
 
Cornell Lewis Legal Defense Fund:
 
 
Connecticut Valley Hospital workplace bullying survey results:
 
 
Connecticut Valley Hospital Plantation (includes data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests):
 
 
David Samuels
Founder
Community Party
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

                

                                                                         

 

 

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Political Roundup: Justice for Jordan Davis / Workplace Bullying in the NFL / DCF Plantation Report

February 22, 2014
This column appears in the February 20 -27 edition of the Hartford News… Trayvon Martin Act Update: The Jordan Davis murder trial ended last Saturday, as a Florida jury convicted Michael Dunn of three charges of attempted murder and another charge of firing into an occupied vehicle. Judge Russell Healy was forced to declare a mistrial on the first degree murder charge after the jury said it was deadlocked. The circumstances of this case are well documented; the verdict definitely sent a mixed message. Dunn faces 60+ years in prison when he’s sentenced in March. For the 47-year-old Dunn, that’s obviously a life sentence. Nancy Grace of HLN reports that Dunn will not be eligible for parole. However Dunn was not convicted of lynching Jordan, who was unarmed when he was shot by Dunn while sitting in the backseat of an SUV, according to the testimony of eyewitnesses. Dunn showed no emotion when the verdict was read. The Black community is rightfully angered by the jury’s inexplicable failure to convict Dunn on the murder charge, but they should express the same level of interest in the routine extrajudicial killing of Blacks in the United States. More on this shortly.
 
Apparently the Mister Rogers sweater Dunn wore during his testimony was enough to offset the fact that Dunn fled the scene, never called police or discussed the shooting with his fiancee. Rhonda Rouer testified that Dunn also never mentioned Jordan having a firearm, which totally contradicted Dunn’s claim that Davis was armed with a shotgun and Dunn acted in self-defense. After the shooting Dunn returned to a hotel with Rouer and ordered a pizza. The obvious rhetorical question is would Jordan have been able to spend the night in a plush hotel munching on fast food if he had shot a white, middle aged software developer? Not bloody likely. Even if Dunn had been convicted of murdering Jordan, the systemic issues which led to the killing remain. Every 28 hours Black people are killed by police, security guards  and armed vigilantes like George Zimmerman and Dunn. http://www.operationghettostorm.org/  Zimmerman and Dunn were simply imitating the behavior of killer cops who routinely get away with executing Black males.  
 
Dunn’s attorney produced a few character witnesses who testified about what a “peaceful” guy Dunn is. The jury never heard about Dunn’s racially charged jailhouse letters or Dunn’s neighbors, who told the Davis family lawyer about Dunn’s history of violence, fraud, drug use and racist behavior. Charles Hendrix said that Dunn attempted to solicit him to do a hit on a man who was suing Dunn’s software company. Hendrix added that he reported this crime to the local police, who showed no interest. Hendrix’s wife said Dunn used the word nigger on two occasions, and she had to admonish him not to use racial slurs in her home. Mrs. Hendrix went on to say that when her husband told her about Dunn shooting Jordan, her first thought was that Dunn always wanted to shoot someone. Jordan’s parents at least know that their son’s killer will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Unfortunately the extrajudicial killing of Black people remains rampant and Dunn was not held accountable for lynching Jordan. The State of Florida will retry Dunn on the murder charge. I totally agree with Grace, who said that Dunn must be retried on principle. The record should show that Dunn is guilty of murder. The Community Party’s Trayvon Martin Act is designed to address the extrajudicial killing of Blacks. Details on the Trayvon Act and our Safe Work Environment Act are available at the end of this column. Last Sunday would have been Jordan Davis’ 19th birthday. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1ja18joURw
 
Safe Work Environment Act Update: The National Football League has issued an official report on workplace bullying of Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin by teammate Richie Incognito and other Dolphins players. The term workplace bullying is used to describe the abusive conduct towards Martin; Appendix A includes several workplace bullying articles. This is indicative of the increased awareness of this issue. You can read the report here. http://63bba9dfdf9675bf3f10-68be460ce43dd2a60dd64ca5eca4ae1d.r37.cf1.rackcdn.com/PaulWeissReport.pdf  Warning: The report includes strong language. This week we’ll share posts from Cornell Lewis’ DCF Plantation blog.   http://www.dcfplantation.blogspot.com/ 
 
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                                    DOES BLACK HISTORY MONTH HAVE  MEANING ON THE PLANTATION

 
 
 
The fanfare surrounding Black History Month in  February is felt all across America. In many communities pictures, films,  speeches and books will depict the struggle of black people in this country.  While all of this is going on I wonder if Black History Month resonates with  employees of color at Connecticut Juvenile Training School. During six years of  employment on the CJTS plantation I witnessed abuse of black employees not fit  for dogs. Yet only a few brave souls ever spoke out about the terrible things  foisted upon black employees. It is one thing to have a job and be grateful for  it; it is another thing to allow that job to silence you when injustice  occurs.
At this juncture you can be sure that Black History Month is  being celebrated at CJTS. There are white administrators and their black  sycophants trumpeting Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, and Martin Luther King etc.  However many employees of color will not take a stand against racism / bias  before them; it seems to be better for black employees to be grateful for a  job, while being kicked in their arse by spiritual descendants of Mr. Charlie.  How can you celebrate a history you do not live?
In conclusion it is  hoped that these same fearful black employees at CJTS will one day get the  backbone to stand up to oppression. In the meantime Negroes you are not worthy  to speak about those people that endured much in order for you to have the job  at CJTS.
” All thought that does not lead to action is a disease.”      —Goethe
 
 

                                                            DEMYTHOLOGIZING THE  PLANTATION STORY

 
There is a habit among tyrants, oppressors and  despots to make certain aspects of a revolution, regime or event romantic and  appealing. In the case of Connecticut Juvenile Training School the myth foisted  on the public is how incarcerated males are being rehabilitated. After a certain  time frame these young men will be returned to society and ready to be pillars  of their communities. When this narrative is out in the public sector it acts as  a soothing balm; community groups are ecstatic, public officials nod in approval  and monies from sources pour in to support the myth.
If we look at  demythologizing in the dictionary a second definition is “to remove the  mysterious or mythical aspects from.” A careful inspection of the CJTS record of  treating employees of color reveals a different story than the popular  narrative; more male employees of color terminated than other ethnic groups (http://dcfplantation.blogspot.com/2012/11/dcf-disciplinary-2011-harsher-penalties.html?spref=tws). In  addition to getting rid of black males, CJTS has for years denied there is any  kind of racial animus at that facility; a former white employee harassed black  co-workers, a white female employee calling black residents porch monkeys,  management ignoring repeated complaints from staff about racism. In the midst of  this entire racial maelstrom at CJTS, management is led by a supervisor making  $100,000 plus a year. However for almost six years the CJTS head person had one  comment when informed about racial negativity at the facility, “I did not know.”  You can only sing that “I did not know” song a few times before it becomes  tiresome. In clinical social work there is a term for people that know the truth  but will not embrace it. If  a person must acknowledge something is wrong, then  they might have to confront, then fix it.
If you run a facility it is the  business of that administrator to know what is going on. Now we have a  Connecticut version of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at CJTS. Christie  claims not to have known his administrators closed down a bridge for several  days. And now the main administrator at CJTS claims ignorance of any wrongdoing. Here again we must destroy the myth that CJTS is being run efficiently  with no problems of any kind as it relates to employees of color.
Well,  there is one thing about creating a myth; sooner or later truth destroys all  vestiges of any lie. In the words of rapper Biggie Smalls, “If you don’t know,  now you know.”
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                                                                                              ACTION ALERT!     

 
We need folks to contact the Judiciary Committee and urge them to introduce the Community Party’s Trayvon Martin Act during the legislative session. Hartford residents call and email committee Chair Sen. Eric Coleman http://www.senatedems.ct.gov/Coleman.php and Vice Chair Rep. Matt Ritter http://www.housedems.ct.gov/RitterM/ .  The contact info for the other committee members can be viewed here. http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/MemberList.asp?comm_code=JUD You can read our bill language here. https://www.facebook.com/notes/stop-racial-profiling-obey-the-law/community-party-trayvon-martin-act-bill-language/617004948349355
 
Contact the Labor and Public Employees Committee and tell them to include CP’s Safe Work Environment Act amendments with any workplace bullying legislation introduced in 2014. Our amendments remove the legal requirement for an employee to prove malice and intent by an employer, which is basically impossible. We also want lawmakers to create a workplace bullying advisory board, which would solicit and implement input from public employees when they recommend future legislation. Municipal employees should tell committee members to expand the scope of any legislation introduced this year to include city employees, in addition to state workers. City teachers have reported rampant workplace bullying at Capital Preparatory Magnet School.   https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/jonathan-pelto-talks-about-rep-matt-ritters-workplace-bullying-town-hall-january-27/ Hartford residents should call and email labor committee member Rep. Brandon McGee. http://www.housedems.ct.gov/McGee/  The contact info for the other committee members can be viewed here. Correction: Sen Cathy Osten is still the committee chair.  http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/MemberList.asp?comm_code=LAB
 
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines and updates on the status of our Trayvon Martin Act and Safe Work Environment Act, including action alerts. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1    Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for public service announcements on CP’s racial justice initiatives. https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com.
 
Resources
 
 
Jordan Davis murder trial verdict (courtroom video):
 
 
Jordan Davis’ parents post-verdict press conference:
 
 
Michael Dunn’s neighbors talk to Davis family lawyer:
 
 
Democracy Now! report on the Jordan Davis trial verdict:
 
 
Michael Dunn’s testimony:
 
 
The Root report on Michael Dunn’s racist jailhouse letters:
 
 
Rhonda Rouer’s testimony:
 
 
 
Cornell Lewis Legal Defense Fund:
 
 
 
David Samuels
Founder
Community Party
 
 
 
             
 
 
 
                                
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Christmas in February

February 14, 2014
 

This column appears in the February 13 – 20 edition of the Hartford News… A Public Bank for Connecticut Update: The Community Party supports Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) campaign to add banking services to the United States Postal Service. A white paper by the USPS Inspector General provides a detailed argument for reviving this concept. Michael Barr, an assistant secretary of the Treasury under President Obama, supports postal banking. The post office provided banking services from 1911-1967, until higher interest rates by banks forced them out of the market. Postal banking services would generate billions of dollars for the struggling USPS while providing people in low income urban and rural communities access to affordable financial services. 68 million Americans do not have checking or savings accounts or are not being adequately served by the banking system. We’re talking to a legislator about this issue now. Visit our A Public Bank for Connecticut Facebook page for updates. http://www.facebook.com/PublicBankCT  Check out our Resources section for more information on this issue.
 
Gov. Dannel Malloy gave his State of the State address/election campaign infomercial last week. The guv kept his streak of not mentioning poverty while delivering his annual speech intact. Malloy, who has been thumping on public employees throughout his term, took off his Darth Vader mask and replaced it with a Santa Claus hat and beard. Malloy officially began his election year strategy of buttering up the workers who were arguably the deciding factor in his 2010 victory over Republican Tom Foley, his likely opponent in November. Public school teachers, who Malloy has attacked relentlessly in his role as a shill for the charter school industry, found a present under their tree; a Malloy proposal which would exempt portions of retired teachers’ pensions from the state income tax. Will this be enough to make teachers forget that Malloy has used them as a scapegoat during the education debate? Not bloody likely. CT residents received a tiny (and I mean tiny) gift in the form of a tax rebate. Individuals will receive $55, while couples who earn less than $400,000 would get $110. Meanwhile the working class continue to be soaked in taxes, the Earned Income Tax Credit for the poor has been slashed, Malloy refuses to raise taxes on the rich and dishes out corporate welfare by the truckload. For the wealthy and big business in this state, every day is Christmas.
 
In 2011 Malloy used pink slips to bully state employees into ratifying a contract that they had voted down six weeks before. These workers will certainly receive an invitation from Santa Malloy to sit on his lap (I am a state employee). No third party gubernatorial candidate has emerged at this point, so November is shaping up to be another false choice. Both Malloy and Foley are controlled by the corporate state, whose agenda is to roll back the gains made by public employees. Malloy’s assignment is more complicated, because the Democratic Party is supposed to be the friend of labor. Malloy used state workers to get elected and balance the state budget, which now includes a phony $500 million surplus and a very real combined $3 billion deficit over the next 3 years.
 
Fast food and low wage workers received their gift in the form of a proposed $10.10 minimum wage increase. Like President Obama, Malloy is responding to the strikes and protests by workers demanding a $15.00 minimum wage by offering a cosmetic pay increase, which will do nothing to improve the economic condition of the working poor. This is the same Malloy who has hemmed and hawed throughout his term in response to questions about his position on raising the minimum wage in Connecticut.
 
Back to the fake budget surplus. Don’t believe the hype, voters. Blogger Jonathan Pelto, a former legislator, recently broke down the method Malloy used to achieve the surplus that he bragged about last week during his address.
 
“When examining how the Malloy administration put this year’s budget together one need only look at the following fiscal gimmicks.
And these are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the way revenue and expenditures were defined to make it appear that Connecticut is on stronger fiscal footing.
Here are a just a few of the ways in which this year’s Connecticut State Budget was “balanced.”  
This year’s state budget:
  • Diverts $190.8 million from last year’s surplus to pay costs this year to make this year’s budget look more balanced and diverts another $30 million to do the same thing in next year’s budget. 
  • Diverts $115,000 for the Stem Cell Research Fund (SCRF) to pay for regular costs at Department of Health. 
  • Although the budget provided the DCF-funded private residential treatment centers with $11.5 million to maintain services, budget takes those funds away. 
  • Rather than use the $20.2 million in surplus from collective bargaining costs in last year’s budget as required to increase the rainy day fund or reduce debt, Malloy’s budget dumped the money into the General Fund and Transportation Fund to make the budget look more balanced. 
  • Diverts $1.4 million from the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund (THTF) to pay for expenses at the UConn Health Center. 
  • Diverts $1.1 million from the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund (THTF) to pay for expenses at the Department of Public Health. 
  • Diverts $3.4 million from Tobacco and Health Trust Fund (THTF) to pay for expenses at the Department of Public Health and Department of Social Services. 
  • Diverts $1.3 million from Tobacco and Health Trust Fund (THTF) to pay for expenses at the Department of Developmental Services and Public Health. 
  • Further underfunds the Teachers Retirement Retiree Health Services Program by $22 million by reducing the reducing the state’s share costs to 25% and municipal health subsidy to 25%. 
  • Diverts $2.2 from the Pre-Trial Alcohol Substance Abuse Program to fund expenses in the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (Regional Action Councils). 
  • Diverts $1 million from Pre-Trial Alcohol Substance Abuse Program to fund expenses in the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (Governor’s Partnership to Protect CT’s Workforce). 
  • Diverts $500,000 in UConn funding to pay for CT Center for Advanced Technology Inc. 
  • Diverts $875,000 from the Student Protection Account to pay for expenses at the Office of Higher Education.  The Student Protection Account is supposed to be used to refund tuition when for-trade schools go out of business. 
  • Diverts $1 million from the Systems Benefit Account to Operation Fuel and allows up to $100,000 of that money to be used for administrative costs. 
  • Diverts over $2 million from various accounts within the Office of Policy and Management and transfers these funds to the Litigation/Settlement account in FY 14 to fund ongoing “litigation expenses.” 
  • Diverts $10 million from last year’s Transportation “Pay-As-You-Go” account to expenses this year including Rail Operations ($4. 2 million); Personal Services ($1. 5 million), Transit Improvement Program ($200,000), and Pay-As-You-Go ($4. 1 million). 
  • Directs the Office of Policy and Management to cut $10 million to municipal aid but the cut would not be announced until next fiscal year. 
  • Diverts $2.8 million in Magnet School fund from last fiscal year to pay $2.3 million for this year’s Sheff programming, $330,000 for the Sound School, and $160,000 for the Neighborhood Youth Centers for the New Haven YMCA. (Remember Appropriations Chair Toni Harp was planning to run for mayor of New Haven this year.  She did…and won). 
  • Diverts any balance of the Probate Court Administration Fund in excess of 15% of the total expenditures authorized to the fund to the State’s General Fund. 
These are just a few of literally dozens and dozens of examples of budget gimmicks that were used to make this year’s budget look “balanced.”
So when you hear that Connecticut has a “budget surplus” just remember that the so-called “surplus” is built upon a fiscal house of cards that will eventually collapse and Connecticut’s taxpayers and those who need and deserve vital state services will be the ones asked to pay the real cost for this political folly.”
 
Finally there is the School Seatbelt Fund, arguably the most appalling example of budget bs by the Malloy administration. You can read Jonathan’s post on the fate of the fund here. http://jonathanpelto.com/2014/01/22/school-bus-seat-belt-fund-prime-example-connecticuts-budget-gimmickry/ The 2014 gubernatorial election offers more of the same for voters, no matter who they choose. The best present for the working class and the poor in this state would be a third party candidate who truly represents their interests.
 
                                                                                         ACTION ALERT!
 
We need folks to contact the Judiciary Committee and urge them to introduce the Community Party’s Trayvon Martin Act during the legislative session. Hartford residents call and email committee Chair Sen. Eric Coleman http://www.senatedems.ct.gov/Coleman.php and Vice Chair Rep. Matt Ritter http://www.housedems.ct.gov/RitterM/ .  The contact info for the other committee members can be viewed here. http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/MemberList.asp?comm_code=JUD You can read our bill language here. https://www.facebook.com/notes/stop-racial-profiling-obey-the-law/community-party-trayvon-martin-act-bill-language/617004948349355
 
Contact the Labor and Public Employees Committee and tell them to include CP’s Safe Work Environment Act amendments with any workplace bullying legislation introduced in 2014. Our amendments remove the legal requirement for an employee to prove malice and intent by an employer, which is basically impossible. We also want lawmakers to create a workplace bullying advisory board, which would solicit and implement input from public employees when they recommend future legislation. Municipal employees should tell committee members to expand the scope of any legislation introduced this year to include city employees, in addition to state workers. City teachers have reported rampant workplace bullying at Capital Preparatory Magnet School.   https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/jonathan-pelto-talks-about-rep-matt-ritters-workplace-bullying-town-hall-january-27/ Hartford residents should call and email labor committee member Rep. Brandon McGee. http://www.housedems.ct.gov/McGee/  The contact info for the other committee members can be viewed here (note: Sen. Cathy Osten is no longer a member). http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/MemberList.asp?comm_code=LAB
 
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines and updates on the status of our Trayvon Martin Act and Safe Work Environment Act, including action alerts. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1    Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for public service announcements on CP’s racial justice initiatives. https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com.
 
Resources:
 
Senator Elizabeth Warren’s op-ed on adding banking services to the post office:
 
 
New Republic commentary on postal banking:
 
 
National Public Radio report on postal banking:
 
 
United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General white paper on adding banking services to the post office:
 
 
Jonathan Pelto’s Wait What? blog:
 
 
Cornell Lewis’ DCF Plantation blog:
 
 
Cornell Lewis Legal Defense Fund:
 
David Samuels
Founder
Community Party
 
                                        

 

Political Roundup: State of Delusion/ DCF Plantation Report/Trayvon Martin Act

February 6, 2014
This column appears in the February 6 – 13 edition of the Hartford News… Community Update: The 2014 legislative session began on Wednesday. Next week we’ll have commentary on Governor Dannel Malloy’s State of the State address and his  budget plan…  The Department of Justice investigation of the East Haven Police Department, which resulted in the  convictions of four EHPD officers, revealed what the DOJ described as a “culture of corruption” at the department. Racial profiling by the EHPD officers was openly supported by their superiors, who attempted to protect the officers during the DOJ probe. Documents obtained from Connecticut Valley Hospital through Freedom of Information requests reveal a similar culture. While Black employees, who comprise 30% of the CVH roster, are fired at a rate of 70% compared to just 22% for whites, and disciplined 10% more often than all other employees, white managers are given a slap on the wrist for gross violations including criminal behavior, and sometimes not punished at all.
 
One manager submitted bogus information in an attempt to facilitate the promotions of two other managers. This criminal act of fraud, which involved taxpayer money used to pay state workers, resulted in a mere 15 day suspension for the violator. As I mentioned in a previous column, internal CVH emails revealed that this manager was involved in a structured effort to manufacture a complaint against me, while he was simultaneously violating CVH work rules (and the law) himself. Another manager used a vulgar sexual term in front of a female staff member and received no discipline. Yet another manager avoided being disciplined after yelling at an employee and slamming his office door in the worker’s face. The employee stated in his complaint that he felt physically threatened by this display of violent behavior. Meanwhile, Latino employees Rosa Badillo and Carlos Vargas were written up by a white manager for being five minutes late for their shift, even though they had arrived on time and had briefly left the building, then returned. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for reports on misconduct by CVH managers. Co-workers have reported to us that another manager was involved in falsifying records. 
  
Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the murder of Hadiya Pendleton. Obama talked about  gun violence in malls, movie theaters and Sandy Hook but did not mention low income communities of color. Hadiya was shot in Chicago, Obama’s hometown, days after performing at his inauguration. Obama didn’t mention her either. I must give the power structure in this country credit. When they selected Obama to run for president they knew what they were doing. No matter how many times Obama betrays Black people, they still worship him like a god.
Obama can sign the National Defense Authorization Act into law, allowing citizens to be thrown into jail without charges or evidence, go to court with Eric Holder to keep the federal crack cocaine sentencing amendment from being imposed retroactively (keeping thousands of Blacks in jail), and Black people still love him. White liberals and leftists are no better. Liberals support this imperialist war monger as long as he addresses some of their pet issues. Leftists try to get Blacks to join campaigns like Occupy Wall Street but won’t reciprocate by supporting Black led mass movements. The left is a joke.
 
 
                                                                                        

                                              DCF Plantation Report: Workplace Bullying Town Hall Reveals Pernicious Racism

                                                                                           by Cornell Lewis                                        
 
 
State Representative Matthew Ritter held a Workplace  Bullying Town Hall January 27, 2014 in Hartford, Connecticut at the Albany Branch library on  Albany Avenue. People arrived at the starting time of 5:30pm and spoke until  7:00pm. A room full of people [most of them women & men of color] described  the pernicious effects of how workplace bullying often masquerades as a new  racism. Places that were named as workplace bullying sites are Connecticut  Juvenile Training School, Connecticut Valley Hospital, and Department of  Children & Families. Listening to the tales of abuse was indeed hard to  endure, but what really struck me is the level of pain heard in people’s voices.  At one point a female black former employee of a state agency described moving  out of a living situation, borrowing money from friends, and contemplating  suicide all because of workplace bullying by white administrators.
Then  I noticed how all those telling their stories mentioned reprisals from white  administrators aimed at black or Latino employees. Several questions for State  Rep. Ritter from the assembled audience were about how state agencies can  continue to get away with blatant acts of selective racism. Statistics show 70%  of terminations at CVH targeted blacks or Latinos, while 66% of DCF disciplines  chose black men. In the room members from various CT Unions feverishly took  notes while shaking their heads at what was being described: a criminal  enterprise using strong arm tactics against employees of color and receiving  state & federal funding. How can something like this occur? One thing  certainly became clear at this meeting; the problem of workplace bullying is  more widespread than first believed within state agencies.
If any  meaningful change is to happen concerning workplace bullying then people are going to have to  demand change. At this juncture it is acknowledged how only a few people voiced  concerns about this issue: and as it continues to meander unchecked, workplace bullying targets  people of color and leaves them as shells of humanity. These state agencies have  resources to fight voices of dissent, while eliminating jobs of undesirables and cowing other employees with threats. As we prepared to leave the meeting a lady  asked one important question “what is it going to take [a tragedy] for someone  to address the issue seriously” and do something about it?  She does have a  point.
We are faced with a new form of racism in the workplace of 2014.  Agencies claiming to care for children and the less fortunate in society are  controlled by white administrators acting out a narrative toward blacks that is  centuries old. Before people in America prepare to celebrate Black History Month  in February. I suggest fighting for racial equality against a new version of  Bull Connor and White Citizen Councils within state agencies.
 
 

                                                  Community Party Trayvon Martin Act Bill Language

 
                                                                                                 by Mary Sanders
 
Introduction ~ It’s time to take action to stop racial profiling and police containment in Black and Brown communities here in Connecticut.  Every 28 hours a Black person is killed somewhere by police, security guards and self-appointed vigilantes like George Zimmerman, according to a Malcolm X Grassroots Movement report. http://www.operationghettostorm.org/ . Trayvon was shot and killed after being approached on the street by Zimmerman, an armed neighborhood watch leader.   Former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle murdered Oscar Grant in 2009 with no provocation or reason. See: http://sfbayview.com/2009/oscar-grant-young-father-and-peacemaker-executed-by-bart-police. We’ve had many unnecessary deaths right here in CT as well.  CP’s Trayvon Martin Act is aimed at addressing this public safety crisis.
 
 The Trayvon Martin Act calls for the creation of a legislative task force on police misconduct and includes some of CP’s original racial profiling bill language, although some of our enforcement provisions did pass during the 2012 legislative session. Nevertheless this crucial language was repealed last year in favor of a version emphasizing electronic data collection and analysis, instead  of our provision which stipulated that a copy of the police officer’s Traffic Stop Report be given to the motorist. We believe this copy is the only way for motorists to know how their race is being represented and is a proven factor in undetected biased policing.  We sat in on testimony of dozens of motorists of color from around the state who were stopped, harassed, given tickets with race recorded as White, and heard of many other biased law enforcement actions.
 
Problem: Drivers do not get a copy of the traffic stop report, which has allowed some officers to lie about the race of the people they stop.  Some victims of profiling may not complain because they don’t know officers are covering up the profiled stops. Beginning July 1, 2013 all motorists stopped were supposed to receive a copy of the Traffic Stop Report but that provision was overturned during the 2013 session.   
 
Add to current law:  1) “Traffic Stop Reports are to be filled out in duplicate so that each motorist receives a copy of the completed form from the officer, in addition to any ticket or summons if one is issued.  2) The copy of the report should be given to the driver as well as the information on filing complaints if motorists believe they have been profiled.  3) If the reports are entered into an electronic data collection system a copy will be immediately available to the detained driver.”
 
Problem:  Drivers and their passengers are being asked for I.D’s. and questioned about their immigration status even when they are clearly not involved in criminal activity.
 
Add to current law: “ 1) The driver shall only be asked for a: Driver’s License, the Vehicle Registration and Proof of Insurance and no other identification or questions about immigration status;  2) Passengers shall not be asked for any identification or questions about their immigration status unless they are being arrested for criminal activity.”
 
Problem:   Men of color are stopped and frisked or worse in every corner of our state; community residents have reported to us that if they dare question authority they are often thrown to the ground, cuffed and arrested; they often are abused then charged with resisting arrest. This happens to our teenagers in schools as well as on our streets.  Many have been beaten or shot by police or others with “authority”, some of them fatally. Every 28 hours a Black person in the United States is killed by police, security guards or self-appointed vigilantes like Zimmerman. http://www.operationghettostorm.org/
 
Add to current law:  “1)  Create a Legislative Task Force which would serve in the following capacities: a) investigate complaints of misconduct of state or local police officers/officials,  b) provide training and oversight to public school guards, university and transportation police,  c) provide training and oversight of neighborhood watch organizations and properly screen and monitor persons functioning in these roles;  2) the Task Force will reserve spots for urban lawmakers whose constituents are disproportionately affected by these issues;  3) the Task Force will conduct monthly public hearings around the state, days and  evenings, which would also be televised by the Connecticut Network for television and online viewing, either live or taped;  4) the Task Force will create a process whereby people could file formal complaints about misconduct by local police or other law enforcement authorities through their legislators’ offices or CHRO.”   
 
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines and updates on the status of our Trayvon Martin Act and Safe Work Environment Act, including action alerts. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1    Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for public service announcements on CP’s racial justice initiatives. https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com.
 
Resources
 
Coverage of the one-year anniversary of the murder of Hadiya Pendleton:
 
 
 
Cornell Lewis’ DCF Plantation blog:
 
 
Cornell Lewis Legal Defense Fund:
 
 
 
David Samuels
Founder
Community Party
 
 
 
 
 

ACTION ALERT (Updated): Stop Racial Profiling & Workplace Bullying in Connecticut!

February 3, 2014

We need folks to call and email legislators in their districts and urge them to support CP’s Trayvon Martin Act amendments. Identify your legislators by providing your info on this page. http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/CGAFindLeg.asp You can read our Trayvon Act bill language here. https://www.facebook.com/notes/stop-racial-profiling-obey-the-law/community-party-trayvon-martin-act-bill-language/617004948349355

Contact the Labor and Public Employees Committee and tell them to support CP’s Safe Work Environment Act. Our bill would remove the legal requirement for an employee to prove malice and intent by an employer, which is basically impossible. Workers should not have to prove psychological or physical harm. We also want lawmakers to create a workplace bullying advisory board, which would solicit and implement input from public employees when they recommend future legislation. We have incorporated bill language that has been introduced in Nevada by State Sen. Richard Segerblom. (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/workplace-bullying-report-2/). Municipal employees should tell committee members to expand the scope of legislation to include city employees, in addition to state workers. City teachers have reported rampant workplace bullying at Capital Preparatory Magnet School. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/jonathan-pelto-talks-about-rep-matt-ritters-workplace-bullying-town-hall-january-27/ Call and email labor committee co-chairs Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield and Rep. Peter Tercyak and legislators representing your district. The contact info for committee members can be viewed here. http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/MemberList.asp?code=LAB