Every day, defense worker and AFGE Local 2017 President Jamie Dukes went to work at Fort Gordon in Augusta , Georgia. And every day, the conditions at his workplace made it increasingly likely that Jamie and his coworkers will have respiratory issues over the course of their lifetime.
The problem? Asbestos. But the even bigger challenge Dukes and his coworkers faced was a management team that just didn't care. And when they were paying attention, it was the type of attention that no good employee deserves.
"We have asked management, the command, and the Department of Public Works for Ft. Gordon to come in and do a walk through with us," said Dukes, who is also President of AFGE Local 2017 at the Fort. "They refuse to do it."
When Dukes and other workers at Fort Gordon raised issues concerning poor ventilation and moldy facilities, they say they were systematically targeted by management for threats, harassment, and in Dukes' case, termination.
“Employees are getting reprimanded for voicing an opinion and that’s not OK,” Dukes said. “Management is turning a blind-eye to our labor management agreement plan, and they refuse to honor the contract we have in place. All we want to do is sit down and speak with management but they refuse.”
That's why more than 100 picketed at the Fort's gates were joined by members of the Georgia AFL-CIO and local news media to protest the dangerous working conditions and unfair management practices at the base.
Employees hope that holding the picket and raising public awareness of their struggle will encourage management to sit down and make a plan for safer work conditions.
"We want to be heard from Fort Gordon to Washington, D.C.,” said AFGE District 5 National Vice President Everett Kelley, who joined the picket. “No employee should have to work in buildings filled with mold, asbestos and unsafe infrastructure. Fort Gordon employees have rights, and I’m tired of seeing employees be penalized for bringing issues to the forefront.”