Category: unions

The Cover Up Novel by Ken David Stewart Part 36


“What do you think Drake? What do you want to do?”
“I’m not sure Dr. Stein. I don’t think I have the health and stamina to return to full time teaching,” said Drake.
“Then let’s explore some alternatives. I’ll give you a couple of psychological tests to do. I’ll score and analyze them for you and then we’ll talk some more.”
“Sounds good to me,” said Drake.
“Are you planning on applying for long term disability benefits?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Then ask your doctor to refer you to a psychiatrist. The insurance companies require the assessment of a psychiatrist for these stress related claims. I know this for a fact. I’ve worked with several teachers and other professionals in your position. As for any career transition issues I will be the best one to help you. It’s probably going to take awhile for your life to stabilize and you’re going to need a source of income during this time. That’s what long term disability benefits are for,” said Dr. Stein.
“You mean I’ll have to see a psychiatrist. Do you think I’m crazy?” asked Drake.
“Not at all,” laughed Dr. Stein. “ But it’s very likely that you are depressed and that’s an accepted medical condition. That’s what your insurance company will be looking for, a recognized medical condition.”
“And they need a psychiatrist to determine this?”
“That’s the way the game works, Drake. It’s the insurance companies that make up the rules. But let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. Are you ready to start your written tests?” asked Dr. Stein.
“Yeah, let’s get at it,” answered Drake.
Drake looked at the papers that Dr. Stein handed to him. One test was known as a Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory. This test was designed to determine what kind of occupations Drake might be interested in pursuing. The other test was the Myers -Briggs Personality Tests. Drake had done both these tests when he had seen a university counselor but that was several years ago. Dr. Stein also had Drake do a couple of psychological tests that Drake was not familiar with. Fortunately, Drake enjoyed doing these types of tests and was interested in how Dr. Stein would interpret his test results when he was finished. In a little over an hour Drake had finished his tests and called Dr. Stein to come back to his study.

The Cover Up Novel Part Twenty-Four


Drake thought, what have I got myself into now?
Drake was asked to be the shop steward for the mental health department five years ago. He agreed to this volunteer position as he was eager to find out how a union worked, on a practical level. Drake had taken courses in labor economics and in the history of Canadian labor organizations while attending university. Drake had certainly heard about and read about unions in the past.
Drake’s father had been active in his own local union. During the late sixties Drake had joined a group that was organizing protests against the war in Vietnam. This group was an off shoot of The Young Socialist Party. It was during this time that Drake started reading Marxist-Leninist literature. He never really felt comfortable with The Young Socialist Party as he was not an ardent, committed socialist. He was certainly not a communist. Drake placed too high a value on individual freedom to dedicate himself to any movement that could result in a totalitarian government.
But Drake did believe in workers’ rights. He hated poverty whenever and wherever he saw it. During his time as an inner city school teacher saw effects of poverty upon a community, its families and its children.
As The House of Hope was unionized its workers had a right to have a union representative present for any disciplinary matters or meetings with management. Like many other employers The House of Hope had a policy where an employee could be ‘written up’ for any breach of the organizations rules, policies and procedures. An employee could be ‘written up’ by either management, a resident or a co-worker even if the co-worker was not working in the same department.
It wasn’t long before Drake was getting phone calls from his peers asking him to represent them at a disciplinary meeting with administration. At first, Drake went along with a more senior shop steward in order to learn the ropes of how to conduct himself in one of these meetings. His mentor showed Drake how to ‘get tough’ with management when a worker’s rights were being violated.
Drake was a ‘quick study’ and it wasn’t long before he was handling most of the disciplinary hearings on his own. He found that he was well suited to this type of work. Drake was smart, a creative thinker and problem solver and could often present management with a viable alternative to terminating a worker’s employment. It wasn’t long before Drake found that his services were in high demand. When Drake got up in the morning he knew it wouldn’t

The Cover Up Novel Part Twenty-Three


When Drake got up he followed his usual routine of letting his dogs go out to the backyard to take care of business.. He would go out to join them for his first cigarette of the day and the only one that he allowed himself. Just as he took the last drag from his Player’s Extra Light, Drake heard the phone ring inside his house.
Drake answered the phone,”Hello.”
“Drake? It’s Phil Oakland from the hostel calling?”
“What’s up, buddy?”
“The union’s got to do something Drake. All hell’s breaking loose here. Our staff’s gone crazy and is writing each other up every chance they get.”
“Why’s that?”
“ We’re understaffed here and are over worked. The clients that the facility is letting in are getting more and more violent. I don’t have to tell you Drake. Look at what happened to Bret Daniels,” said Phil.
“I know. We have the same problem in the mental health wing. Having some extra staffing would help ease a lot of the pressure,” Drake answered walking over to his coffee pot.
“The thing is that the staff are starting to turn on each other. They are also asking me, ‘what’s the union doing about it?’ I called our union’s national representative and he told me to call you about these issues.”
“Who? Hugh Stradbrook?”
“Yeah.”
“Here’s the deal with Hugh. He’s close to retirement and doesn’t want to work too hard. From what I heard he complained like crazy when the union put The House of Hope on his case load. At this point in his career he doesn’t want to rock the boat. Hugh’s also heard that dealing with Lisa Harrison is like wrestling with an alligator.”
“So, where does that leave us?” asked Phil Oakland.
“What this means is that we’re probably going to have to do all the bull work on our own. Don’t expect much help or support from Hugh Stradbrook. I’ll tell you what Phil, I’ll try to get a shop steward’s meeting organized for some time next week.”
“I’m glad to hear someone’s going to take the reigns here?” said Phil with a sigh of relief.
“Well, don’t get your hopes up but I’m going to see what we can do on our own,” said Drake as he ended the phone call.

The Cover Up Part Twenty-Seven


 

Drake enjoyed most parts of his job description. He wasn’t too crazy about having to give medications out to the residents. This he found very stressful as their was absolutely no tolerance for error in this part of his duties. Drake had to dispense medications twice during his shift but that was one of the drawbacks of working the evening shift. One of the things that Drake liked about working the evening shift was he could sleep in in the mornings. Drake rarely got up before noon unless he had a doctor’s appointment or union business to attend to. It seemed like Drake needed the afternoons to take care of business. There were always things that had to be attended to. Things would periodically break down or need to be repaired or replaced.

 

Unfortunately, Rick didn’t possess any aptitude for fixing things. On his IQ tests he would usually score above average in every category except spatial reasoning. Drake would literally try to fit the round peg into the square hole. As a result of being mechanically challenged, Drake had to rely upon the services of repair contractors. He always found having to call repair people to be a humiliating experience. In most areas of his life, Drake was more macho than the average man but being a handy man was not one of these areas and resulted in him suffering serious anguish. Drake hated to admit to himself but he didn’t have much interest in the world of tools and repairs. He would much rather read, listen to audio books, play guitar, sketch pictures or write his fiction stories. Drake much preferred the life of the mind over the life of the body. There were some exceptions to this as Drake was probably more athletic than most men his age. Whenever, he could squeeze in some time, Drake would go to the gym, ride his mountain bike or go walking with his dogs at the closest dog park. In spite of his physical activities, Drake was still obese and was constantly battling his weight problem. He would go on near starvation diets periodically. These unhealthy diets often resulted in a loss of ten to thirty pounds but when you were as big as Drake, this produced little if any change in his appearance. This, Drake found very discouraging and usually resulted in Drake giving up the diet. He would then console himself with his high carb, junk food diet. There were areas in Drake’s life in which he was very disciplined but there other areas in his life where Drake appeared to demonstrate no will power whatsoever. But then again, Drake was a very complex man and he realized that there weren’t too many people like him. He found that there were advantages and disadvantages to this.

 

 

The Cover Up Part Twenty-Two


Chapter Four

At about 8:00 AM Todd Duncan the day shift rehabilitation counselor arrived at The House of Hope to begin his shift. Up until recently there had been a swing shift residential care worker working from noon until 8:00 PM. As the union had recently negotiated a significant raise in salary for The House of Hope employees, the administration had chosen to lay off workers to cut costs. It wasn’t long before the negative effects of this decision was felt by the mental health wing. Both the day and evening shift rehabilitation counselors found that the time that they previously had to teach life skills classes and to spend quality time with individual clients was substantially reduced. This not only greatly reduced the effectiveness of their mental health delivery program but created a culture of resentment and lack of trust between the administration and its front line workers.

One of Todd Duncan’s first duties that morning was to check the medications for the week. He looked in Bret Harkness’ medication slot and noticed that his medication bubble pack was not there. Todd thought that this was odd. He phoned Rick Jenning’s office.

Good morning Rick. I was checking the meds this morning and couldn’t find Bret’s bubble pack from last week. When I checked his slot it wasn’t there. Do you know what happened to it?” asked Todd.

It’s nothing to worry about Todd. I’ve got Bret’s bubble pack of meds in my office. One of the detectives wanted to show him what medications Bret had been taking,” Rick replied.

Why didn’t you just show them his Medication Administration Records sheet, Rick?” asked Todd.

You know what Todd? You ask too many questions. Don’t tell me how to do my job. I’m your supervisor. I’ve got my duties to fulfill and you’ve got yours .Now let’s both get back to our jobs,” Rick snapped and hung up the receiver.

To say that Todd was confused and shaken by this tongue lashing would be an understatement. Todd had always been a competent and loyal employee in the three years that he had worked for Rick. Never in this time had he heard Rick take this tone with him.

Todd tried to shake it off and get back to the job that he had been doing.

The Cover Up Part Twenty-Two


Chapter Four

At about 8:00 AM Todd Duncan the day shift rehabilitation counselor arrived at The House of Hope to begin his shift. Up until recently there had been a swing shift residential care worker working from noon until 8:00 PM. As the union had recently negotiated a significant raise in salary for The House of Hope employees, the administration had chosen to lay off workers to cut costs. It wasn’t long before the negative effects of this decision was felt by the mental health wing. Both the day and evening shift rehabilitation counselors found that the time that they previously had to teach life skills classes and to spend quality time with individual clients was substantially reduced. This not only greatly reduced the effectiveness of their mental health delivery program but created a culture of resentment and lack of trust between the administration and its front line workers.

One of Todd Duncan’s first duties that morning was to check the medications for the week. He looked in Bret Harkness’ medication slot and noticed that his medication bubble pack was not there. Todd thought that this was odd. He phoned Rick Jenning’s office.

Good morning Rick. I was checking the meds this morning and couldn’t find Bret’s bubble pack from last week. When I checked his slot it wasn’t there. Do you know what happened to it?” asked Todd.

It’s nothing to worry about Todd. I’ve got Bret’s bubble pack of meds in my office. One of the detectives wanted to show him what medications Bret had been taking,” Rick replied.

Why didn’t you just show them his Medication Administration Records sheet, Rick?” asked Todd.

You know what Todd? You ask too many questions. Don’t tell me how to do my job. I’m your supervisor. I’ve got my duties to fulfill and you’ve got yours .Now let’s both get back to our jobs,” Rick snapped and hung up the receiver.

To say that Todd was confused and shaken by this tongue lashing would be an understatement. Todd had always been a competent and loyal employee in the three years that he had worked for Rick. Never in this time had he heard Rick take this tone with him.

Todd tried to shake it off and get back to the job that he had been doing.

The Cover Up Part Twenty-One


I have nothing to say to you, Mr. James,” was Lisa’s curt response to Bill James’ phone call.

I heard that there was another fatality at your facility a couple of days ago,” said Bill.

Who told you that Bill?” demanded Lisa Harrison angrily.

You know that I can’t reveal my sources, Lisa,” was Bill James’ answer.

Now, isn’t that convenient. I’m going to check around if you’ve been talking to any of our staff. If I find out that anyone’s given you any information about the operation of The House of Hope they’ll be tossed off the pay roll as fast as the last two were,” said Lisa opening the drawer where she kept her bottle of Tylenol.

From what I’m hearing the incidents of violence are escalating rapidly of late at The House of Hope,” stated Bill James.

Is that supposed to be some kind of news flash, Bill?” pouring herself a glass of water from a pitcher filled with ice cubes.

I don’t know if you’ve figured it out yet, Bill, but The House of Hope is located in the poorest area of the city. You don’t have to be a social worker to know that poverty breeds crime,” said Lisa.

So you’re going on record as saying it as a violent criminal act that killed the young man?” Bill pursued sensing an opening.

I’m not going on the record as saying anything, Mr. James. I’d just like to tell you how easy it is for you to sit back and criticize the way I run The House of Hope,” said Lisa Harrison feeling her blood pressure rise.

Hang on, Lisa, I know you don’t have an easy job,” replied Bill James defensively.

You have no idea. You really don’t Bill. I would like to put you in my job for one day. You’d quit before noon,” said Lisa as she noticed her voice increase in volume.

Of course, I’m not you, Lisa. I could never do your job,” Bill answered.

I never thought I’d hear you admit it, Bill,” said Lisa relaxing slightly.

Look Bill, you go to all these city council meetings, have your little communist meetings and publish your little rag you call The People’s Voice, but you have no idea what the reality of the situation is.

I’m a socialist not a communist, Lisa. I’m deeply offended,” said Bill James with a soft laugh.

What’s the difference, Bill?”

Come to some of my meetings and you’ll find out,” Bill answered.