in the news

Marta Russell ap888 at
Sun Feb 28 14:37:48 PST 1999

Doyle Saylor wrote:

> Doyle:
> Some people are, but you know training helps. And respect helps, and good
> wages, and a host of things that make for dignity when one works.
> Patronizing someone is not in everyone, and it is not done away with by
> making someone a pseudo boss. I have seen people fired quads for speaking
> their mind. Not for patronizing, but saying something that goes against the
> grain of someone. What are we supposed to be, robots, automotons? What is
> to stop the abuse of the worker. I know what that is like. I really know
> what that is like. About arbitrary and self centered people with little
> understanding just firing people when the whim hits them. No one says that
> attendants ought to do bad work, but that Marta you ought to think a little
> deeper about the process of capitalism that you think is right when a
> disabled person is the boss, and that makes them "independent". No body is
> independent to that degree, that is an illusion.

Marta: I don't think I meant to imply that the disabled person is the "boss" in this way. The way the program is set up now, the county designates the disabled person the employer and the attendant the worker. It certainly does not make us "independent" in the truest sense of course becasue the working relationship is interdependent. My main point is that traditionally, care takers as the "keepers" of the "pateient" look down upon the "patient" as not knowing what is good for themselves. In another post to Yoshie I gave an example of Ben Mattlin's hospital experience. This is a constant and reoccuring issue in the medical model of disability between "trained" workers and the disabled person who is not considered to have any medical knowledge. I don't know of anyone who thinks the disabled person has equal footing in traditional medical model skilled relationships. When I say put the relationship on equal footing, I mean get rid of this superior/inferior way of viewing disability. There was actually a union organizer down here who stood up at a meeting and said that people on IHSS needed someone to "Watch over them." meaning, her, the attendant now an administrator needs to direct the disabled person's life. This is the attitude that must be done away with because someone thinking that way will NEVER pay attention to the disabled person's expertise about their own bodies, their own needs.

> Doyle: Every time I hear that boss stuff
> from some disabled person it makes my blood boil. You think being a boss
> makes every decision someone who is disabled issues ok?

Marta: No but also, there is a very real issue of workers being flakes, not showing up on time or not showing up at all. The sheriff's department is looking for an attendant down here suspected of tying up a woman with cerebral palsy and killing her. We have to be able to get a dangerous person out of our homes with out asking the union if its OK. The union DOES NOTHING to screen its members, so they cannot be looked upon to solve the problem.

> Doyle:
> When the cops go on strike the fear runs rampant in the wealthier parts of
> town the streets will run in blood because the anarchy of all against all
> will happen. The reality is police strikes don't result in anarchy. When
> nurses go on strike the hospitals don't become morgues.

Marta: A quadriplegic who lives at home and has an attendant who comes daily to feed, dress, and help transfer them into their wheelchair cannot exist one day with the help of an attendant. The attendat leaving the job to strike would mean the quadriplegic would be completely stranded in their home. For how long one day, two days, a month??

> Doyle: Who is responsible
> but the bosses. If the boss is the quad who has no money, no resources, and
> can't speak up, how are they going to fire someone? It will have to be
> policed by a company/county administration.

Marta: This is exactly what we don't want is a policing of our homes. I'm surprised that you would think that a quad cannot speak for themselves. This is part of what the problem is, YOU assume a quadriplegic cannot speak, and make choices, decisions for themselves. Quads CAN speak up, I see them do it all the time. We don't want any extra layer of bureaucracy thinking it needs to police us.

> Doyle: if someone steals in any job
> they get fired, but you know the power is in the hands of government
> agencies.

Marta : Not with IHSS the way it is now. The disabled person does the firing, it's a one on one situation. The county only asks for the name, etc of the worker. It has nothing to do with the details.

> Doyle: If an attendant beat somebody up they get fired. The abuse of
> disabled folks won't be solved by anti-union tactics. No strike clauses.
> Why in the world with so much progressive knowledge Marta do you think
> hobbling the union is the best answer? You know air flight controllers have
> airline passengers lives in their hands, was Reagan right for firing all of
> them for going on strike? How is a union steward different from a worker
> who comes into your home?

Marta: I think I explained this above. A quadriplegic who lives at home and has an attendant to feed, dress, and help transfer them into their wheelchair cannot exist one day with the help of an attendant. The attendant leaving the job to strike would mean the quadriplegic would be completely stranded in their home for how long, one day, two days, a month?

> Doyle: Where is the privacy? You give that up to hire
> someone who is a stranger to come into your home. That shop steward you
> think has no right to be in your home, is where the worker gets their
> protection, and where if you thought about it, is the place that you can see
> problems worked out in a good way.

Marta: No disabled person I know wants shop stewards in their home just like you would not want your boss at any corporation to be able to come into your home anytime they want because maybe you don't want them to know you have a picture of Che Guevara on your wall. You know what I mean ? Why should anyone be able to do that other than a worker you have chosen to come into your home?

> Doyle: No you didn't have to insist on that[no strike clause]. You if you
> were part of the process
> were no different from any other boss. And it ain't so boss, that we don't
> have a right to a strike. When the time comes and our strength is there you
> ain't going to stop us from our just demands. I will fight for my rights
> when I can land a hard blow. I will bide my time, choose when the time is
> right and fight to win. And I don't give a damn about your opinion about I
> have no right to strike.

Marta: Doyle you should know that the higher ups in the union know a strike would be disasterous public relations and they were in absolute agreement about the no strike clause - they did not even resist it one little bit. I'm talking Washington DC level union officials.

I certainly do not want to act like "the boss." We just don't want to be put in a position where our health and lives are endangered by others with more power to do so. I hope the union WILL get better wages and much needed health care for the workers because in many cases workers are our friends and we don't like to see how they are pushed to the bottom. I know that the whole situation is a result of the STATE not wanting to do what is right by the workers or disabled people either, but we also know that there is a lot of ignorance out there about details.

The Public authority is LA is new, but so far collective bargaining in San Francisco for several years has not produced much in the way of gains. According to consultants who have been working on the IHSS issues for years, Willie Brown gave the IHSS workers a very small raise based on city budget surplus, but that is temporary and the $15 dues that the union gets pretty much wipes out that raise as far as some workers are concerned. Since workers who work 26 hours a month or more can have dues collected, that means that some workers salaries have been pushed below minimum wage when dues are subtracted. You see I really DO care to see that the workers gain, otherwise I would not bring out these not so popular facts. I think you need to be asking why hasn't the union done any better ?


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