UNC housekeepers claim harassment

glloyd@newsobserver.comNovember 14, 2012 

The majority of housekeepers who clean the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry filed a grievance Wednesday alleging harassment by two managers.

The housekeepers work the night shift under housekeeping manager Juanita Williams and zone leader Annette Rieves. They are asking that Williams be fired and Rieves demoted to a housekeeping position.

“Ms. Williams’ and Ms. Rieves’ constant harassment and verbal abuse of housekeepers in our zone has created an environment of fear and intimidation,” the housekeepers wrote in the grievance.

Of 18 division housekeepers, 15 joined the grievance. Five other workers transferred from the dental school zone rather than deal with harassment, they said.

The housekeepers making the claims are mostly Burmese and Karen immigrants, said Laurel Ashton of the UNC-Chapel Hill student group Student Action with Workers. Two of them joined the action Wednesday. The workers filed theclaim this week because Williams is on vacation, Ashton said.

“With this coming out and acting as a catalyst, we might see more (grievances filed),”she added.

Last year, more than 500 housekeepers petitioned Chancellor Holden Thorp, alleging harassment in the workplace by assistant director of housekeeping Tonya Sell. Thorp hired PMR Consulting Group to audit the housekeeping department.

“Survey results and comments indicate a large number of employees felt management did not promote a workplace free of discrimination, harassment and intimidation,” the report stated.

Williams is on the task force the housekeeping department formed to address issues in the PMR report.

Lloyd: 919-829-4649

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