Men of color are not fairing much better. Nor are people with disabilities. They too, undergo humiliation, intimidation, lack of opportunities and unwarranted adverse actions. Workplace bullying in the USDA and Forest Service is rampant, pervasive, and crosses all lines of gender, race, national origin, physical ability, and sexual orientation. Retaliation is institutionalized.
In Region 5, a class action on behalf of women was filed this year because of the abuses. A Native American class action is being discussed. Filing costly EEO complaints and lawsuits are despairing acts by employees who tried everything else - to no avail, while Secretary Vilsack and Regional Forester Randy Moore turn a blind eye to the problem. The U.S. government can no longer afford to frivolously waste the taxpayer's money on these matters. There is a better way to deal with the issues. The USDA Coalition of Minority Employees has presented viable and cost effective solutions to Secretary Vilsack but he refuses to acknowledge The Coalition or discuss the solutions. I believe this attitude will continue unless the White House becomes involved.
I am aware that the White House recently contacted the Secretary's Office again. They are likely concerned that women, minorities, non-minorities, Black farmers, union employees, and concerned citizens will be in Washington, DC next week to raise their voices about the USDA civil rights violations and abuses. Women from the California Forest Service will be there, standing in front of USDA to be heard.
And Mr. President, if USDA leadership tells you that they are working on the problem, do not be fooled. The incidents discussed in this letter happened recently -- four months after my last letter to you; three months after my communications with Mr. Blake; many months after the Shirley Sherrod fiasco; and many, many months after Secretary Vilsack's creation of policies that are allegedly designed to change the "Last Plantation."
In conclusion, I am asking for answers to the following questions. Why is it that you are allowing these egregious acts against your base to perpetuate? How many more months do women and minorities have to suffer until the White House does something? And finally, Secretary Vilsack serves at your pleasure. How could you possibly be pleased with the horrific USDA and Forest Service working conditions he has condoned by his lack of action? I now believe only the White House can answer these questions. Please, President Obama, please answer these questions. It is of utmost importance to thousands of your constituents that you address this matter.
/s/Lesa L. Donnelly
Vice-President, USDA Coalition of Minority Employees
cc: Senate Ag Committee
House Ag Committee
Senator Charles Grassley
Congresswoman Maxine Waters
Secretary Tom Vilsack
President, USDA Coalition of Minority Employees
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