Discrimnation or just a choice?

I live in a state that is has “right to work” laws in place to protect employers and allow them to hire non-union employees. The state itself has a union for its employees but this union has over many years grown very weak. I have a friend who copied the union contract and used it to its utmost. Here’s the problem with this situation, if you make union participation voluntary vs. mandatory (i.e. no union dues and no union loyalties) but still get the same benefits as the members why would anyone join? That is one of the reasons why the state union is so weak now. Every one is covered by the same contract and they do not have to pay dues or follow union votes to strike or picket. Doesn’t really seem fair does it?

Why the lesson in union vs. non union states? I have been trying to get hired on in my home town so I can quit driving 70+ miles a day back and forth to work. Its just simple math. A job I had in the local industrial park years ago gave me the option of riding a bike to work if I wanted to. An 8 minute drive if I was in  hurry or lazy. Can’t do that now. At the speed limit I am working a 10 hour day from the time I leave for work and the time I get home. The worst part? I only get 8 hours of pay for it. I was given a chance to “promote” about 2 months ago. Well actually it was more like maybe 4 months ago, I can’t remember for sure but I believe it was in February and it is now July. Anyway I have been looking since I got my first year in with my current employer to earn more money. I have massive debts and not enough income to pay them all. I have been applying at other employers as well. No bites yet. Why? I think maybe combination of switching jobs too much the last few years and my diabetic history at work.

What diabetic history at work you ask? I have had at least one incident of low blood sugar (read that as they called the ambulance) at several of my past employers. My current employer I have to applaud as when this happened I did not have to go through the Spanish inquisition to stay employed. Here are some of the questions and requirements I have been forced to get in previous situations. A doctors note (that ones is a duh), forced into making a an appointment (in modern times we have phones and the internet to relay information), and depending on the job being made to take another less dangerous job.

Here’s a good example of laws being in place that actually help diabetics. A t one employer years ago I had an accident that totaled my truck. To get to work I now had to either walk or ride my bike to work at 2 pm. Well any diabetic can tell you what the results are going to be. You increase your exercise level and your blood sugar drops. Now here’s the kicker, how much do you drop your insulin to compensate? Well this happened 3 times in less than 2 months and I came into work one day and they told me I was no longer allowed on a fork truck. Uh that leaves me in a bad spot as I was in the receiving department at the time. The worst part was I was only one after 6pm if I remember right. I was later told by my boss that if I couldn’t do my job then I would be let go as there was no other opening to place me in.

What chapped my hide about this was there was no mention of the 5 plus years I had worked, most of it as a material handler, with no problems and then when something traumatic happens and I get thrown under the bus. It is was never brought up that none of the incidents took place on the fork truck. They happened on my way to the candy machine or pop machine to fix it. Getting to work I was told I had to go see the head of the HR department. He told me that they had decided to give me 90 days to show no other incidents and get a note from my doctor releasing me back to work. In the mean time I was not allowed to operate a fork truck. I made it back and worked the rest of my time there with few (not any just few) problems. I also heard from a source that it was the parent company’s HR that overturned the firing. I could have had a very embarrassing  ADA violation going to court.

I believe that at least part of my problem of getting a better job and along with it better pay is my diabetic history. I have gotten into arguments over my next statement. with fellow employees. One was a union steward in another state and she says employers can only ask  if they would hire you back again. I have read the final statements on the end of current employment applications. If you sign that form you are giving them authorization to allow them to run a criminal background check. If you read farther into that clause it also gives them the right to get employment information and run credit checks. So all the information in my former employers files are open for my future employer to see.

One of the side effect of a right to work state is that an employer does not need a reason to not hire you. Even if you do ask they can say, per the book, we went with a more qualified applicant. I applied for a job in the material handling field. They went with a more qualified applicant. I have more than a decade of experience as a material handler running all kinds of fork trucks. Stand up, sit down, reach trucks. articulated, electric, diesel, propane, and other specialty trucks. I have done receiving, shipping, line support, and part pulling. Better qualified? My work record is not spotless but as I have found this last year it is far and above a lot of other workers and it counts for not. Is it because of my diabetic history? One has to wonder.

One of the other things employers have always wanted me to tell them after an incident is that it will not happen again. What maroon is going to make that claim? There will always be something that happens that you have no control over. How hard you work? How long you work? Sometimes even what you eat. We have meals at my current employer from time to time. Celebrations such as birthday brunches and sometimes vendors will grill out in the summer to show thanks for the business. How many carbs are in that cookie? How many are in that runza? It is a guess at best.

I guess this was as much to blow off steam as bring up an issue that diabetics run into in the work place. It is depressing to feel so powerless in your life. What can a person do to battle misconceptions of diabetics and how they fit in the work place.

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