Rome Bommersbach works in environmental services at HCMC, helping keep the hospital safe and clean for patients and staff. Management made workers rebid for their jobs, resulting in different hours and duties that are causing Bommersbach and others distress. He says he’s being targeted due to his race and union activity.
“My director, every time he sees me, he has to comment about my hair: ‘You should get your hair cut. You’ll look better with your hair cut. You know you’ll get more women with that hair.’ First of all, I have a girlfriend, and Dude, you’re racist. He calls me ‘Slick.’ That’s an old racist term, that’s racist right there.
"I’m targeted, it’s not just about race, it’s because I’m a union member. I’m a union steward with (AFSCME) Local 977. (Another supervisor) told me that a lot of guys use the union and hide behind it.
"My start times got switched from 7 to 8 a.m. Before, I would patrol the lobby. That was my area. Taking care of debris, cleaning restrooms, windows, I took pride in making sure the lobby was up to par. What if I was walking into the lobby? How would I want it to be? I’d want it to be clean. No trash on the floor, no paper, cleaning every time there was a spill.
"Now I’m a fulltime reliever. Now I don’t have an actual area. Each day is different. I go wherever they put me. I don’t know where I’ll be until I come in. I’m not a fan. Staff is coming to me asking me all these questions (about the lobby). I don’t patrol this area anymore. I can’t do anything about it. It’s out of my hands.
"I was proud to come to work. I approved because you got to see different people, you interacted with different folks, and you built a relationship with people in that area. Now there are different people. They’re in a caste. If they don’t know you, they don’t want to know you.
"That’s stressful. I already have anxiety and that doesn’t help. Now I’m in a different area, I have to think in a different mindset. They’re throwing off my mindset, my thinking process.
"It’s not affecting me so much as it is the patients. You’re already in pain. You’re in distress. You barely want a nurse in there. Why would you want three people in your room, cleaning, emptying the trash? You have all these people knocking to do what one person was doing before. It doesn’t make sense.
"They didn’t think this stuff through. Stuff looks better on paper than actually being acted out. You can have the blueprint on paper, but you’re not the one doing it. Management should take into consideration the hardships and actual work we go through as humans. We are treated as robots with no feelings, respect or dignity.”