Suspended Chapel Hill town workers fight racism, retaliation by abusive management
posted October 10, 2010

On September 20, 2010, the Town of Chapel Hill, NC, suspended and began an investigation of Solid Waste Operators Clyde Clark and Kerry Bigelow, just one business day after they filed health and safety grievances. Clark and Bigelow have been raising concerns regarding racism, health and safety issues, and abusive management. A letter from the Town claimed that there were "complaints" about union stewards Clark and Bigelow but they were never notified of even one complaint. They were banned from town property with no explanation and were told that could not grieve this retaliatory suspension, because the Town views this as a "Non-disciplinary Suspension."

On September 30, the Town met with Clark and Bigelow as part of the "investigation" but they were not allowed to bring representation. A few days later, a UE 150 member and bus driver was placed on three day suspension immediately after filing a petition signed by 25 other drivers asking for consistent breaks. Again, he was not given any explanation for why he was suspended. This troubling retaliation is causing extreme stress for workers and their families and has sent a clear message to all Town workers: If you grieve issues of injustice on the job, you can be suspended.

Since these injustices, workers and community allies have been taking action demanding that Clyde and Kerry be reinstated immediately and calling on Town Manager Roger Stancil, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, and the entire city council, to make it clear that no worker will be retaliated against for speaking out about working conditions.