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Don't Get Sick If You Work For District Council 31

Date: Tuesday 28 December
From: "Rick and Sue Smith" rickandsue@netjax.com

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 90 DAYS.

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.

In Solidarity,

Sue Smith

217 370-6652
217 675-2710

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

E-mail: henry@afscmeillinois.org
Bob Sarver, Business Manager
800-697-4635 Extension 3313

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