Responds to Protests
By UE Local
In response to protests by UE Local 150, a task force
appointed by Gov. Jim Hunt last month issued a series of
recommendations for elimination of racial discrimination at the Eastern
Carolina School for the Deaf.
Following nearly a year of investigation, the task force
delivered its report in the Massey Center auditorium on the school’s campus
April 5; present were Gov. Hunt’s chief of staff, Linda Povlich, and Stephanie
Bass, chief of staff to Secretary of Health and Human Services David
Bruton. "These are very important and very serious
recommendations," Povlich said.
The recommendations focus on improving fairness and equity in
the treatment of employees and students by improving communications at all
levels. The task force asks the state to:
Enforce state laws regarding discrimination;
Inform employees of their rights;
Make sure employee complaints are handled fairly and
Give employees the training they need to do their jobs
Provide diversity training for all employees;
And to make sure all employees understand how hiring and
salary decisions are made.
Bass pledged that the Department of Health and Human Services
would monitor implementation of the task force’s recommendations on a
quarterly basis. Thomasine Hardy, the school’s recently appointed
director, promised to monitor compliance with the recommendations on a daily
PRAISE FOR UE LOCAL
Kristi Hyman, co-chair of the task force and the executive
director of the Governor’s Initiative on Race, praised the members of North
Carolina Public Services Workers Union, UE Local 150, who organized the
protest last spring which led to the task force. "Sometimes people have
to stand up and be heard," she said. "This is what America is all
"We welcome your report and recommendations," said Inez
Banks, a worker in the school’s health center, who spoke on behalf of
the union. "We commit to have members of the union on each of the bodies to work to
implement the recommendations."
Echoing the comments of other speakers, Banks said union
members love the school’s students and their jobs taking care of them. This
is what motivated the protests, they said.
"We need to learn from history," Banks said.
"Change is not always easy, but it is necessary."
On April 30, 1999, the UE Local 150 chapter at the Eastern
North Carolina School for the Deaf conducted a public hearing on patterns of
racial discrimination experienced by workers on the job. Twelve school
employees, all union members, gave testimony to a panel consisting of two
state representatives, a city councilman, a community housing leader, a Glass
Workers’ local treasurer and three ministers. The union presented the panel
a petition signed by 1,200 area residents calling on the Governor to conduct
an immediate investigation in the problems at the School for the Deaf.
Weeks prior to the hearing, workers rallied outside the school
entrance to kick off their campaign against discrimination. UE Dir. of Org. Bob
Kingsley was among the speakers.
Between these two events, the school’s superintendent,
regarded as a major part of the problems, announced he would be stepping down.
UE News - 05/00