Monthly Archives: September 2006

Ableism in the Human Rights Committee: What is bullying?

  • constant nit-picking, fault-finding and criticism of a trivial nature – the triviality, regularity and frequency betray bullying; often there is a grain of truth (but only a grain) in the criticism to fool you into believing the criticism has validity, which it does not; often, the criticism is based on distortion, misrepresentation or fabrication
  • simultaneous with the criticism, a constant refusal to acknowledge you and your contributions and achievements or to recognise your existence and value
  • constant attempts to undermine you and your position, status, worth, value and potential
  • where you are in a group (eg at work), being singled out and treated differently; for instance, everyone else can get away with murder but the moment you put a foot wrong – however trivial – action is taken against you
  • being isolated and separated from colleagues, excluded from what’s going on, marginalized, overruled, ignored, sidelined, frozen out, sent to Coventry
  • being belittled, demeaned and patronised, especially in front of others
  • being humiliated, shouted at and threatened, often in front of others
  • being overloaded with work, or having all your work taken away and replaced with either menial tasks (filing, photocopying, minute taking) or with no work at all
  • finding that your work – and the credit for it – is stolen and plagiarised
  • having your responsibility increased but your authority taken away
  • having annual leave, sickness leave, and – especially – compassionate leave refused
  • being denied training necessary for you to fulfil your duties
  • having unrealistic goals set, which change as you approach them
  • ditto deadlines which are changed at short notice – or no notice – and without you being informed until it’s too late
  • finding that everything you say and do is twisted, distorted and misrepresented
  • being subjected to disciplinary procedures with verbal or written warnings imposed for trivial or fabricated reasons and without proper investigation
  • being coerced into leaving through no fault of your own, constructive dismissal, early or ill-health retirement, etc

Ableism in the Human Rights Committee: Sabotage 2

Earlier in the month I wrote the draft of an article covering the last Human Rights Committee Conference, to be submitted to the UTLA newspaper, The United Teacher,  and posted it to the Human Rights Committee listserve, asking for revisions, corrections, suggestions,  and photographs.  A few corrections were suggested and revisions were made, and with the approval of the Chair of the Committee, Steve Seal I sent the article on, to UTLA  staff member K.T. for publication.  As we got closer to the submission deadline I contacted K.T. to make sure she had all the information she needed. She informed me that the UT was not going to use the article afterall, that  “Ethel” and “Gilroy” had provided another article on the upcoming HRC/CAMS conference instead.  No one had told me that a change had been determined. I was totally broadsided!  I immediately called Steve Seal, the Committee Chair, and he said he had heard nothing about this either, that Ethel and Gilroy, instead of engaging in democratic dialogue and suggesting changes to the proposed article, or even proposing a substitute article, silently and behind the scenes, went about replacing the article that had been approved by the Committee, including the Committee Chair, with one of their own.


As it was, the first article was challenged by a key concept in journalism: timeliness.  The conference had taken place last May and the article would be coming out in late September, early October.  The emphasis on the HRC/CAMS conference was more appropriate, with a reference to other Committee activities and previous conferences placed later in the article.  KT and I worked together to modify the CAMS conference article, adding  descriptions and photos of  the previous conference. The outcome was an article that was stronger than either of the two rival articles.   

So, what’s the problem?

Ethel and Gilroy KNEW they were subverting my work, which is classic bullying.  They had an opportunity to make changes to the article and even propose a different article or direction, when the matter was brought up on the listserve. They could have approached Steve with their concerns, if they had legitimate reasons for not working with me and the rest of the Committee, via the listserve, to revise the article. 

This matter was addressed at the first HRC Meeting, on September 27, 2006 and the revised article was presented, hot off the presses much to the surprise of Ms. Ethel and Mr. Gilroy who sat silently as both  Andy and I explained to the Committee what had happened and confronted E. and G. about what they had done.  There was nothing to say in their defense.    

This,   along with the strange emails from Gilroy regarding the names I sent him from the sign in sheets, and the  underhanded behavior of Camile, holding onto sign in sheets,  that were my responsibility to add to the listserve, is typical bullying behavior.

Steve was confronted with the unanswered phone call and emails regarding this underhanded behavior, and finally provides the  following email:

——– Original Message ——– 


Subject: Re: second post: : Re: [utla-hrc-discussion] re: HRC issues
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2006 20:19:05 -0700
From: steve seal <>
To: <>
References: <> <>

I have discussed the matters with Gilroy and Camille and have received assurances that we will all be able to work together on our committee priorities.  There should be no further personal attacks from anyone on the listserve or anywhere within this committee.  I feel that the situation with Clarence and his attire is one that I really have no say in.  It is not up to me to judge the attire of any person wherever they are.  This is an individual issue and I think that it has been blown out of proportion under the rubric of sexual harassment.  You are an important part of this committee and so are the others.  We need to be able to work together, period.  I think that much of the wording on the proposal that came out at the meeting will be useful to further our work, and I look forward to discussing it later at the next meeting.

Take care

Ableism in the Human Rights Committee

The Elephant in the Livingroom– if we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist
“Ethel” posts a message to the list regarding an event at the Southern California Library.  “Mildred”  posts a response to the list that goes on to discuss the upcoming HRC meeting scheduled for September 27.
So, while a previous post of hers states:
“It is better to talk together face to face.respectfully and treat each other as comrades. No one has a monopoly on suffering or militancy. None of us disagrees with becoming more sensitive and ending of all descrimination, but we have yet to arrive at a process of respect and humanity and not pidgeonhole each other in ways that show we really do not know each other at all.”
below, she suggests an all together different approach.  It would appear that both admonitions, not to discuss on line and not to discuss in a meeting face to face, are two sides to the same coin:  a stonewalling of any real discussion and debate and a real accounting of the issues and demands facing this committee on the issues of disability rights, assertions and on sexual harassment and sexism.
But then, given the silence on “Clarence’s” choice to wear a sexist and sexually explicit t-shirt  to a HRC meeting, with the expressed purpose of provoking and upsetting me, it would appear that we are operating under the sexist double standard that there are good girls and bad girls: where good girls are seen as innocent, and bad girls, like those who interrupt a meeting to assert their rights (albeit gracelessly) get what they deserve.
Underlined and in bold text; emphasis, mine.
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: [utla-hrc-discussion] Fwd: So. Cal. Library: New documentary on Victor Jara this SaturdayDate: Wed, 13 Sep 2006 11:58:41 -0700 (PDT) “Ethel”-  The So Ca library has an uncanny habit of scheduling events when I could not go!  This Sat evening at 6:00 at the 1st Unitarian Church on 8th St just east of Vermont is an event that I’m committed to (Do come), Rosemary is coming . A highly honored former Pres of Costa Rica is speaking after a  typical Cent Amer. dinner. I’ll forward a flier. That same evening at Immanuel Church 5 min away is Amy Goodman.I don’t know if I explained why  I couldn’t make it to the CAMS event -ill.
I’ve got the book and will read it during my vacation. Since Iw won’t be at the 27th HRC committee meeting, hope some sane people will go and insist on not discussing the retreat and its aftermath at that ocassion.  If they insist, then  “Camile” has said there should be a mass exit. Let them deal with the destruction of the committee.

Ableism in the Human Rights Community- Continued: Sabotage

Making the Case
When this conflict began, It was hoped that through dialogue we could resolve these issues and at least find a way to work together.  It is clear to me now, that this is going to be an ongoing battle, that will need at the very least, the interference of other Committees, UTLA officers.  I still hope that this can be achieved without going outside of the internal mechanisms of the Union.
To view this series from the beginning, go to:
Yesterday I submitted the following message to Committee Chair, Steve Seal, off list, in response to his suggestion that a meeting be held to discuss the problems in the Committee.
Emma_——– Original Message ——–
Subject: : Re: [utla-hrc-discussion] re: HRC issuesDate: Mon, 11 Sep 2006 06:49:14 -0700From: Emma Rosenthal Reply-To: emmarosenthal@earthlink.netOrganization: earthlinkTo: Steve Seal
CC: Andy Griggs
I appreciate your support on the ongoing issues of discrimination and disability rights that seem to be the source of resentment focused on my and my assertion of those rights, and I really empathize with the difficult position you find yourself in as Committee Chair.   But I am inclined to agree with Linda that a meeting to discuss the situation would perpetuate the hostility and abuse that I have had to endure and that has devastated me emotionally and physically.
These are not merely issues of the past, but ongoing attempts to marginalize me and prevent my participate in the Committee on any level and a more unequivocal and assertive response to these attacks is needed from you and other leaders in the union.
It is my understanding that posting the email addresses collected at La Quinta, to the listserve and forwarding the contact info of those interested in working on the upcoming  “joint” HRC/CAMS  conference on to “Ethel” and “Gilroy”,  were well within my responsibilities as moderator of the list. Am I not correct?  If so,  how is that an imposition on the group or the upcoming conference, as stated by “Gilroy” in two emails to me that I have since forwarded to you?   It would appear that “Gilroy” seems to feel that any participation on my part, even carrying out my assigned tasks in maintaining a listserve, is an imposition.  Not having received any clarification from “Gilroy” or “Ethel” on any of my inquiries or Andy’s as well, on these accusations leads me to assume that this position is official CAMS policy and that CAMS feels it is within its rights as the leadership of the upcoming “joint” conference  (as WAS clarified by “Ethel”)  to impose these value on our committee as well.   “Gilroy’s” emails, with no supporting evidence of the accusations seem like a deliberate attempt to intimidate me and shut me out. Without clear, repeated and assertive contradictions to his assertions, I am afraid their bullying may  prevail.  Already, in order to de-escalate the conflict and to avoid further embarrassment, harassment and ridicule, I have found myself pulling back from full Committee participation.
A response from you to “Gilroy”, letting him know that he is out of order is necessary, and I hope that a similar message has been conveyed to “Camille” for her refusal to return to me the sign in sheets at La Quinta; another example of a refusal on the part of members of this Committee to work with me, to acknowledge the right of the committee itself to assign tasks to members, and to sabotage and undermine my efforts and membership.    It is not enough that she finally returned the sign-in sheets to you after four other committee members  told her to turn them over.  As I am the one responsible for the lists, these sheets should have been returned to me as I requested them at the meeting at La Quinta, in which “Camille” was in attendance.  There was no reason for her to hold on to the lists in the first place.  She had expressed no interest, provided no input in any discussion regarding recruitment and is not one of the list moderators.
Additionally, “Clarence’s” behavior at La Quinta, and his intentional attempt to disrupt our meeting by wearing a sexually offensive, sexist T-shirt with the expressed intention of provoking a reaction from me, (as documented by Linda)  is not only sexual harassment but an attempt to sabotage the Committee’s efforts to conduct business and hold a scheduled meeting. “Clarence’s” behavior , along with that of “Gilroy’s,” “Ethel’s” and “Camille’s” at La Quinta, along with the ongoing support of “Mildred”,  are consistent with a campaign of discrimination and the imposition of a hostile working environment towards me because of my disability and my assertion of my rights.
You said to me that you see me as an integral and important part of this Committee. If so, then you need to make  it  known that this Committee will not support this type of bigotry and discrimination and their actions and emails are out of order.  Enforcing established laws and policy regarding disability, civil rights and discrimination does not need a vote, a meeting or a discussion.  They require action.

Ableism in the Human Rights Community- Continued…

Linda Responds to Steve’s Suggestion to Hold a Special Meeting
<>To view this series from the beginning, go to:
_ ——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: [utla-hrc-discussion] _re: HRC issues_Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2006 22:12:19 -0700 (PDT)_From: LINDA BAUGHN
Dear Steve:
Sorry it took me so long to reply– I really wanted to think before I responded. I mean this with the utmost respect for you, the work you do, and the difficult position you are in as chair of this committee, but I think I disagree with the premise of your post. It’s too “evenhanded”–as if discrimination and getting pissed off at discrimination were moral equivalents and there was right and wrong on both sides. I don’t think that’s actually true. Emma was denied access to the retreat, and has been treated in a demeaning, marginalizing and hostile manner in well documented instances since then by more than one member of this committee. No-one else has been subjected to abuse. Where are the “two sides?”  I think the committee and the union leadership as a whole have to take a stand on the question of the rights of disabled members of our union. Until we have done so, a meeting based on the premise that both sides have a point of view and we need a neutral mediator would be an opportunity for abuse of a valued member of this committee. In unity and struggle

Ableism in the Human Rights Committee Part XVI

September 08 2006 (14:55:00) US/Pacific

This meesage was posted to the HRC list by Committee Chair, Steve Seal
To view this series from the beginning, go to:
Julie and Josh are two officers within the Union.
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: [utla-hrc-discussion]re: HRC issuesDate: Sat, 2 Sep 2006 20:54:02 -0700From: steve seal
Hello all,
I feel it is time to come together and discuss all of the negativity that has been lingering around our committee since the summer.  I would like to have a meeting with our core group to address some of the issues and try to come to an understanding about what we need to do to survive as a committee.  It is important for us to come to a consensus about what we need to do to focus on the future and to stop dwelling in the past.  There have been a series of allegations and responses that need to be addressed. I am looking to have a meeting in the next couple of weeks to try and deal with what is going on in a positive and supportive manner.  I am going to ask Julie and Josh to moderate if they are available.  I will give some dates once I have a conversation with them.  It will be important for all of you to be present so that we can succeed and move on together.
si se puede

Ableism in the Human Rights Committee Part XV

September 05 2006 (11:05:00) US/Pacific

Andy Responds to “Gilroy’s Emails
To view this series from the beginning, go to:

Strange formatting:  Blogsource is having technical trouble and there are formatting problems.  One problem is the placing of question marks where they don’t belong, in the place of spaces.  I have tried to remove all of the erroneous question marks, but may have missed a few.  If it doesn’t make sense, it isn’t supposed to be there.  -emma

On Saturday Andy responds to “Gilroy” in an email to “Ethel” and “Gilroy” who are both leaders of CAMS and members of HRC.  To date, there has been no response from either “Ethel or “Gilroy.”
——– Original Message ——–_Subject: HRC–from the Leadership conference on_Date: Sat, 2 Sep 2006 19:04:16 EDT_From:
“Ethel” and “Gilroy”:
This is my letter in response to the messages that have been exchanged (some on list, some off) since the leadership conference.  I am, quite frankly, amazed at “Gilroy’s” vitriol at Emma providing the names of those who signed up to assist in the conference (and “Ethel’s” apparent acceptance of it, when it was she who requested the information at the HRC meeting at La Quinta).  When a conference is a joint HRC/CAMS conference, which is what “Ethel” told me when she proposed it as a possibility in May and in Vancouver, as well as what was printed in the minutes from the retreat, “Ethel’s” draft proposal about the conference, and on the flyer passed out at La Quinta, it suggests equal input and work.  Emma quite rightly provided the names of those who signed up to assist (and only one day after the conference, despite “Camille’s” reluctance to give up the names of those who had signed in at the reception.  “Ethel.” you later (after the exchange between Emma and “Gilroy”) posted ‚”a clarification,” which changed the order of the names (to CAMS/HRC), and a different understanding of what was in the minutes.  I can accept that perhaps the minutes did not accurately reflect the proposal, but since no one asked for them to be changed, I assumed it to be a joint conference with equal input and support from each group, and this change seems to suggest that it is CAMS who can dictate who can participate.
Imagine my surprise when I (as a member of the HRC AND a member of the CAMS Advisory Board) was told by you at the leadership conference that neither I (nor anyone else I assume) could submit a proposal for a workshop because you had already chosen the workshops. Your original post did not ask for ideas for workshops, but rather the format, and assistance you needed.  In a joint conference, priority should be given to HRC and CAMS members where there are competing proposals, as has always been done at past conferences (for example, we had at least one other workshop proposed on Cuba last year which was rejected, because we wanted “Camille” and “Mildred’s” included).
I am also quite concerned that no one (except Linda) has responded to “Clarence’s” wearing of a sexist T-shirt at our meeting and subsequently saying he did it to ‚”piss off Emma.”  “Ethel”, in an earlier note, you said that “Clarence” should be made aware of how his action was offensive (the retreat), and if it continues should be dealt with-or are you condoning his action of wearing the T-shirt and justifying his teasing because it is “understandable” because he does not believe that Emma has a disability?
Below is my line by line response to “Gilroy’s” posts:
8/22, early AM_”Gilroy” wrote:_I thought this was a CAMs conference!__See first 2 paragraphs above. Funding has been committed to the conference by HRC, including funding “Ethel” to come to the Leadership conference. A joint conference suggests just that–that we are working on this together.
I think setting up any more list serves will just confuse the issue. Emma, I do not how comfortable I feel that you are imposing your influence of this.
Confuse what issue? She said you‚”will probably be setting up a planning committee discussion list.” This is in keeping with past practice, so the conference committee’s internal planning conversations and dealings would not have to be read by the entire list. At the Human Rights Ctte meeting at La Quinta, “Ethel” asked for support for the conference, and, at “Clarence’s” suggestion, the HRC sign in sheet was sent around again for people to add in a separate box if they wanted to assist at the conference. Those names are the ones that Emma sent you, to help in the recruitment of these volunteers. How is that “imposing her influence?”
It seems in the past for conferences that you have grumbled and complained a lot, made many cavalier decisions, and then taken credit for other peoples work.
I have heard Emma express concern and complain, as I and others have also done, about the fact that we needed more help in order to pull off the past two conferences, and that people had made commitments that were not being met without letting us know that they were unable to.  There were also problems in getting bios in a timely fashion for applying for salary points and program printing.  In one case, a committee member only turned in bios and workshop/plenary descriptions she had proposed after I intervened and only after asking me why Emma could not write the committee members’ own bio and workshop descriptions!__Next, the cavalier decisions!? Emma has made sure that all of the conference proposals and decisions have been brought to the entire committee for approval-even when she was too ill to attend the meeting. In last year’s conference the committee was given authority to proceed a little more rapidly and make certain decisions due to the shorter time frame.  She and I made sure that programming of times and workshops were sent out to the presenters (including you, “Gilroy”) and the committee for input and concerns-including the unfortunate mistake that was made about scheduling the two global warming workshops at the same time-but you did not respond to those posts, “Gilroy”! You only complained at the conference itself, when it was too late to change things!  _And finally, taking credit for other peoples work? I have seen Emma walk around the conference with a pad of paper making notes, so she would not forget to thank anyone!_Emma has also asked you to provide instances of the two above accusations (TWICE!)-and you have been silent-as you apparently were if and when the alleged offenses happened-instead of addressing them when they occurred._Does this mean that you cannot give specifics, or that your accusations are totally unfounded, presented in order to intimidate her? And how do you know that she lacks “self-reflection” if you have never provided her with feed back in what may have been a sincere oversight on her part, in time for her to correct it?
CAMs has to plan this conference, not you! HRC has already helped us but that does not mean that you are being put in charge of anything. Please do not assume that your are able to delegate further roles for HRC or HRC members._G.__As pointed out above, she was working under the assumption that this was a joint conference. Where does it say anywhere in her communication to you, or what actions have occurred that suggests Emma wants to plan this conference or have charge of anything about it, or to delegate roles? Two years ago, at the request of the HRC Emma put together the two list serves and set up a web page (if I remember correctly, you said you did not have time to do it, because of your work with CAMS) with the discussion list being unmoderated and the announcement list being moderated by Steve, Emma, and me. And where did she attempt to delegate roles???
8/22, late morning
I am very busy right now at work but I do need to respond to this.
Glad you felt the necessity of replying-I do wish you had taken the time to actually reply to her questions and requests-and maybe taken the time to think out your reply.__Let me repeat:_Emma, I do not feel comfortable in your self-appointed role as a conference planner.__The only thing I can figure out about this is that in the context of the past two conferences she was referred to as chair of the conference sub-committee, a title that was not self-appointed but granted by HRC, as no one else expressed interest.
If you want to give input fine than give it through the normal channels of meetings.__Are you saying you would prefer she not send you the names and contacts of people who offered to help in the conference until the September 27 meeting, less than 6 weeks before it is to occur? “Ethel’s” initial draft proposal requested that those interested in assisting do so by responding to her email. Isn’t email, including our listserve an appropriate channel for input into Committee process, especially for a member whose health does not always allow her to get to meetings?  If not for input and inter-meeting decision making and dialogue, why else have a listserve?
We do not need a separate list serve for the conference. I don’t think we need a another committee either. CAMS has been busy planning this conference for quite awhile and we have a vision for the conference that is appropriate and focused.__Again, no new committee or list serve is proposed-other than sharing what was done in the past. If the work can be done without it, wonderful! Also, if CAMS wanted to do a conference without HRC input and full participation, they could have asked for us just to use the HRC name to get the room, as has been done in the past, and even have requested funding for it. We have also done this for other groups, such as the Immigration Conference just this last June. Perhaps you would feel better if we went back to that model!
I think Emma, that you take way too much credit for other peoples work. If you think this is an extreme comment than I guess your idea of internal self-reflection is limited only to other people.__See above – provide instances as twice requested.
Frankly, I do not know what if any role you should take in this conference given your past bizarre behavior.
Now, we get to perhaps what might be the heart of your bizarre letters! Is it that you do not like the way she blew up at the retreat? Or that she explained and apologized about her actions and continues to assert her rights?__I would then have to ask about your and others’ “bizarre behavior,” as follows:_- “Gilroy’s” letters and “Ethel’s” tacit agreement of them_- Saying “Clarence’s” teasing and abuse at the retreat was understandable because “Ethel” and “Mildred” had “seen others react with discomfort when Emma asked for help due to her illness?” (I must ask you here, “Ethel”, if you noticed this before why not try to follow your suggestion of talking it out when it occurred instead of letting it build to this)?_- “Clarence’s” apology in Boston to Emma for his behavior at the retreat (which included grabbing her arm unexpectedly and a smarmy kissing of her hand – and saying that he would make his home accessible because there were some who were committed to having future retreats at his home), and then wearing a sexist T-shirt to a meeting (an HRC meeting, no less!) in order to upset Emma- as he admitted to three people at La Quinta? Or is that still allowable because he thinks she is not disabled? _- No one responding to Linda’s description of that incident at La Quinta-do you condone what he did?_-justifying the teasing and ridicule of a disabled person on the subjective basis of disbelief in her disability, while simultaneously suggesting that she explain her condition while condemning her for doing so, characterizing such explanations as a plea for pity.__I am quite saddened and angered by what has happened at the retreat -and subsequently-among what seems to be a handful of people. “Ethel” and “Mildred” suggested this be handled internally and not in email, but no attempt has been made to do so – and it appears that there is no desire to do so.
The work of the Human Rights Committee is very important to me and to many in the union. But if our group cannot be a model of how to deal with internal disagreement, discomfort, and yes, discrimination, then I have to wonder about what is going on.
We need to deal with this-and before the September 27 meeting. I would like to see “Gilroy’s” accusations about cavalier decision making and not giving appropriate credit, or an apology for making unfounded accusations. Perhaps Steve needs to step in as chair here as well-certainly for “Gilroy’s” accusations and in response to Linda’s posting about “Clarence’s” actions at La Quinta.
If we do not, I do believe the leadership of the union will need to be called in to deal with a situation where a member of the HRC committee cannot feel safe going to meetings without being abused, ridiculed, or baited because of her disability, the belief that she does not have a disability, or some set of rules (as yet not defined-or is it that an angry outburst is never allowed?) on how someone should request their assistance or demand their rights.