Don't Get Sick If You Work For District Council 31
Date: Tuesday 28 December
From: "Rick and Sue Smith" firstname.lastname@example.org
I AM TRYING TO get help for my plight..
In 1990, I began a job in accounting with AFSCME Illinois Council 31, the
largest union for the state of Illinois. In 1998, I suffered a brain
aneurysm and missed three weeks of work. In 2000, I took six weeks
maternity leave for the c-section birth of my child.
In February, 2003 I learned I had a brain tumor, scheduled surgery for June
and e-mailed my boss at AFSCME and the Executive Director. I required over
11 weeks off work for my second brain surgery. When I returned to full
time, I was able to work three days and called in for emergency vacation on
the 4th day. Three work days later I was given 5 minutes to leave the
building. Luckily, I had a cell phone and was able to call someone to come
get me as I waited by the street on one of the hottest days in Illinois that
August. I couldn't just get into my car and leave as I didn't yet drive
after surgery. I received a one sentence letter stating I had been
terminated in the following day's mail.
AFSCME is self insured. The day I returned, Bob called me into his office,
with the door open, and quizzed me in depth about my health. We discussed
that the surgeon had left a 2 inch section of bone out of my skull in case
he ever needed to operate there again, I wasn't able to drive, I needed
glasses to see properly, and I hadn't fully regained my balance. However,
swelling in the head was quite common after brain surgery (I was lucky that
after my aneurysm I didn't have any) and the side effects should lessen
gradually over the next 5 months. AFSCME receives information about health
status from our insurer, Allied Benefits. I have a copy of a confidential
report from Allied listing the five most expensive claims in 2003, of which
I am one. In my case, where it states I was diagnosed with a meningoma five
years ago it was incorrect. I feel someone at AFSCME felt my health
condition was worse than it actually was.
Let me explain how AFSCME's insurance works. AFSCME pays a small premium to
Allied for administration of our health claims. In addition, AFSCME pays
all claims up to an individual's specific ($50,000 per year) or the group
aggregate. Each Monday, Bob was sent a listing of the claims processed in
the prior week. I would transfer the money into an insurance account to pay
these claims. Bob is also the Business Manager and tries to keep AFSCME
costs down as much as possible. In addition, he was my boss. I can't help
but feel there is a conflict of interest when Bob can supervise any employee
that he also receives health reports on and also has the job of trying to
keep costs down. Another former employee, Laura Gates, feels she was fired,
by Bob, after suffering a stroke.
I filed a discrimination charge with the Il Dept. of Human Rights. It
culminated in a fact finding conference on 08/04/04. I have very detailed
notes of the conference. In it my former boss stated that I was terminated
for not allowing him to shut a door. Human Rights told me that I wasn't
handicapped under the Illinois guidelines, I was temporarily recovering from
a surgery, and therefore didn't qualify under Illinois law. The
investigator suggested that I withdraw my complaint from Illinois Dept of
Human Rights but continue the charge with EEOC.
On December 20, 2004, EEOC sent me the determination "Based upon the
Commision's investigation, the Commission is unable to conclude that the
information obtained establishes violations of the statutes. This does not
certify that the respondent is in compliance with the statutes. No finding
is made as to any other issues that might be construed as having been raised
by this charge." The bottom of the form says I have a right to sue WITHIN
I am out of a job, went through my retirement to pay cobra insurance, and
really can't pay more money to a lawyer for a long, costly lawsuit. The
only way I know that justice will ever be served is if I get backing to file
a lawsuit. I feel my situation is vital to employees everywhere. If a
Union can treat their employee this poorly, how can they provide effective
leadership to anyone in the labor force?
I have always believed in unions. Now more than ever! I can't help but
think this type of situation would never have occurred if I had been in a
union. I want my story to get out to other employees. It is a valuable
lesson for non-union employees to learn. Please take a few moments to help.
I need legal backing and would also like this e-mail forwarded to anyone
you can think of.
Call Executive Director Henry Bayor nd Business Manager Bob Sarver
and ask how, why they can't take care of Sue Smith & Laura Gates who was
fired by Bob Carver after she suffered a stroke.
AFSCME District Council 31, Chicago
Henry Bayer, Executive Director
Illinois Public Employees, Council Number 31
29 North Wacker Dr., ste.800
Chicago, IL 60606
800-697-4645 Extension 4308
Bob Sarver, Business Manager
800-697-4635 Extension 3313