April 12 2013
Occupational Safety Health and Administration
Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA
Mr. David Michaels
200 Constitutional Ave NW,
Washington, DC. 20210
Ref: Request an Investigation into Verizon failure to protect and care for the safety of the employees
United States Assistant Secretary of Labor Mr. David Michaels;
Good day Sir, my name is Neal W. Dias and I am from Swansea Massachusetts. The first thing you state on your web site is, “You have a right to a safe workplace.” It so happens to be the reason why I decided to write you today. As you know, whistleblowers place themselves in a very unsafe and career sabotaging situation when they decide to bring unsafe situations to the attention of OSHA.
Today, I am bringing many items to your attention about Verizon Communications which have been a historical issue, but many will never step forward to make a difference because of the fear of retaliation from Verizon. I am now in a position to do this without additional fear of retaliation for exposing Verizon, I am no longer an employee. This is much overdue but it is time. No more employees need to die at Verizon, no more employees need to be injured, and no more employees need to work in an unsafe work condition, so hopefully OSHA can help.
I will attach the link to a story about me and what has happened to me while working at Verizon (please read it) but in brief; I was a successful former Verizon Manager that witnessed a very abusive, sometimes a very violent and racial workplace. I witnessed verbal and physical threats. I witnessed the intentional sabotaging of employees and their lives as well as mine. I witnessed management target certain employees to build cases against them with intent to set them up to suspend or fire them. I witnessed management state that will lie, if need be, too harm the union employees. I witnessed such malicious bullying from managers to their subordinates. I know of manager’s that have physically threatened other managers and was never disciplined for their actions.
I know of a female Verizon employee that was touched inappropriately, complain about it and was advised by MCAD from Verizon’s own position statement that: “Even if the Verizon male manager touched her it was only once,” and he was never punished. She is a single mother, and was forced to work under this sexual harasser unprotected to fend for herself. She was not protected by Verizon and they left her there to get further harassed after she complained. She was later targeted by this perpetrator and fired in retaliation, and now struggling to support her children.
I have witnessed managers steal safety items off the vehicles and have other manager’s drive by and write the employees up to build cases against them and they called it a safety ride. I have witnessed Directors and Area Managers at Verizon have meetings on ways to target selected employees with intent on creating havoc in their lives as a personal vindictiveness. I have seen, heard and witnessed brutal treatment and that was supported by upper management as their philosophy was; “This was the way to improve productivity.” I have seen, witnessed and been a victim of “Verizon’s EEO, Verizon’s Corporate Security and Upper management” ignore the violence within Verizon only to protect the perpetrators.
I have seen Verizon donate to violence against woman but condone it within Verizon.
I have seen Verizon donate money to minority groups like the NAACP but allow black to be called racial names, get targeted because they were black and the racist employees still are able to maintain positions at Verizon.
I have seen Verizon donate to anti-bullying, but responded in a position statement to a State / Federal Agency approving of a bully’s actions because he was an “Equal Opportunity Offender,” he just did not bully the minorities he bullies everyone.
I have seen Verizon management threaten, swear at and downgrade employees with not discipline, but when the roles are reversed, the union technicians are punished to the fullest including termination. I witnessed managers speak negatively about the gays and lesbians at Verizon and never was held accountable for their actions. The list goes on, and I will eventually provide you with plenty of proof, as I request your agency to conduct a thorough investigation. I have proof that Verizon indeed fails to investigate criminal and civil acts within their company, State and Federal as well. I have proof that Verizon does in fact leave employees to fend for themselves, while keeping the employee in an unsafe and unhealthy work environment. I have proof that Verizon Corporate Security and Verizon EEO claim they conduct full investigations into claims of harassment, discrimination, bullying and violence within the Workplace, then submit false investigations into States and Federal agencies only to falsify, lie, obstruct justice and perjure themselves – never conducting a full and complete investigation.
I’ve have proof (a CD) that Verizon had full knowledge of chemicals / hazardous materials in a building in New York City at 140 West Street and employees may have contained deadly illnesses and respiratory infections, and they possibly never conducted a full clean out of these chemicals.
Verizon has thousands of technicians both lineman and splice technician handling telephone poles throughout the country, loaded with life threatening chemicals without providing respiratory protection. These chemicals that the telephone poles are dipped into cause cancer and respiratory infections. These technicians are unsafe and are never provided the pertinent information or safety protection to help them out. Verizon also have their technicians operate lead containers and cables that are both aerial and underground without providing them proper protection from illnesses and lead dust.
Verizon technicians are being forced each day to work faster and putting themselves in a very unsafe situation. Within the last few years two technicians in my area have died do to coming in contact with power. One died in Plymouth Massachusetts and the other in Rhode Island. I personally was the first manager called on this death to respond as I was the on call manager. I do not know what happened during this investigation and what Verizon placed in their reports as we were not allowed to ask, but I do know this. The elevation of that ground / road was slopped and the size of that telephone pole was not correct. The size of that pole where that technician died was too small (based on that evaluation of the ground) which lowered the power lines to only increase the contact with any employee working on that pole. I am pretty sure a larger pole one was placed after the death to increase the height of those wires. Unfortunately, Mr. Gary Gibbons died that day and he was a couple of days away from retirement. I would not hold it past Verizon to falsify their internal investigation to cover-up this matter to ensure the liability was not on them. They have been caught covering up many internal investigations in the past and I would not put it past them with this either. This is something you may possibly want to look into as well.
The injuries or deaths of many Verizon employees across the country are increasing do to the pressure to work faster and not following proper company, state and federal safety measures. In the morning, before the start of each day (when it was Nynex /Bell Atlantic), the technicians were able to have the appropriate time to check their vehicles, check all their safety gear and prepare for the day being safe. Safety was the #1 priority but today being Verizon, the technicians are being forced to get out of the garages in record time. Managers are pushing them out before the technicians can test all their vehicles and safety gear including their 188s (which is the electrical tester). 1st level managers are being punished and screamed at by upper management for not getting them out of the garages fast enough. This pressure is not allowing the technicians too properly so safety checks on the vehicles as well which is a direct safety motor vehicle violation as well as a CDL requirement. Verizon is “not” following the proper safety protocol and has established Verizon’s own agenda. I know OSHA at any time can show up to any Verizon garage across the country and ask any technician what I am stating is true. You can also investigate all of Verizon accident records and deaths Nationwide within Verizon over a period of time and speak to the technicians or their locals that were involved and they will also confirm this to be factual.
Past Neglect of Verizon: US Labor Department’s OSHA cites Verizon NY Inc. for repeat and serious safety violations following utility worker’s death in Brooklyn.
1. Verizon Cited only $13,500 for the Death in 2007 of Mr. Gary Gibbons in Plymouth MA.
2. Verizon Cited only $140,700 for the Death of Mr. Douglas Lalima in New York
3. Verizon Makes OSHA List of Severe Safety Violators
4. Misc OSHA Violations with Verizon:
I did not know this until I read a about the OSHA investigation, but If you state what is true this this next paragraph about Verizon “COOKING THE BOOK” which is a nice way of stating they lied, committed fraud and tampered with evidence to cover up the neglect and to hinder further fines and violations, shouldn’t this be criminal. This is exactly what I mean Verizon indeed lies, and commits illegal operations but continues to get away with this.
During OSHA’s investigation (#315915249), the agency cited Verizon with repeat offenses, such as failure to provide personal protective equipment like rubber gloves for workers exposed to high voltage. Verizon was also not providing employees with training or safe practices for working around high voltage power lines. In addition, Verizon was not keeping accurate occupational safety and health records, and it appears that Verizon was cooking the books by reporting a fatality as an injury on OSHA Form 300.
These fins that Verizon are getting for these deaths and violation will never, I mean never impact them from changing their ways and continuing to commit fraud. A company that ears TRILLIONS and being punished in PENNIES will never change. And when they know a death of their employees are only valued at $13,500, what is to stop them from killing another employee.
In fact, I can also have you speak to many technicians and one on particular that was often being pressured to set telephone poles without being safe or using safety precautions, which will in fact cause more deaths and injuries within Verizon!
Verizon technicians when entering the underground, vaults or manholes are also being pressured with time restraints. So they will enter the manholes without properly ventilating the manholes because of the pressure from upper management to get it done faster not safer. Upon entering these manholes, proper ventilation and testing is required but the technicians are cutting corners not because they want to but are forced to. You will also have access to the amount of technicians in both line and spice departments that have been injured or died do to the unsafe work environments at Verizon. Some of the manholes are deeper and wider than the required manhole blower is. This leads you to believe that the proper ventilation is being performed, when in fact it just is the opposite. Many ventilation blowers an inadequate and too small for this procedure to work correctly, causing the technicians once again to work unsafely but not at their means.
Recently OSHA has adopted the Anti-Bullying protocol to ensure a safe and healthier workplace for our employees. I congratulate OSHA on this as I am an advocate for workplace bullying. This was the reason I was targeted and eventually wrongfully terminated. I was protecting employees from being bullied, and then I became the target as well. OSHA, I will provide you with over a thousand people that are being bullied at Verizon trying to make a stand. I have letters, comments, etc…, whatever you need I have the proof and I will have them send you the proof as well.
Verizon has probably hundreds of thousands of rotted poles throughout the country. They are called “RED TAGED POLES.” These poles have RED TAGS on them and the arrow on these rotted poles determine whether the pole is rotted on the bottom or the top. These poles are supposed to be replaced immediately as they are unsafe. If the top is rotted, the electrical lines can fall off the top or the pole because if the strain on them, and electrocute innocent pedestrians including children. If the arrow is facing down, that means the telephone pole is rotted at the bottom and extremely dangerous and can also fall onto someone property or into the streets injuring or killing someone as well. The issue here is that Verizon is still allowing their technicians, and other utility and cable companies to work on these unsafe poles endangering each and every one of them. These RED TAGGED poles are everywhere because the technicians do a great job at prodding the poles to check for rotted poles, then tagging them. The only problem is that Verizon will not spend the money to replace them at the pace they should replace them, only waiting for storms to happen, and get them replaced with either insurance money, or state and federal aid or possible motor vehicle accidents were the money comes from insurance companies as well. Verizon is not up-keeping the safety of the outside plant and endangering the workers and the community. Many sit there for years, and never get done only hampering everyone safety.
If the techs tell their foreman that they are refusing to perform a job because of any safety issues, they are either forced to do it or suffer the consequences. They will either be sent home on a suspension, written up for refusing to perform a job task or their livelihood threatened. They are threatened of their job and livelihood and this is unacceptable behavior and a way to resolve the safety issue at hand. This is how Verizon handles technicians that are trying to do the right thing. Many are frightened to lose their jobs so they take the abuse and threats, but it’s not right. Having to work unsafe and being forced to work unsafe is illegal, but Verizon don’t care. Why because they are too powerful to be touched by anyone.
I made a moral stand and brought it to the attention of Verizon on many unethical issues and made internal and external complaints about this abusive and work environment then I was targeted. In the end I was then I was advised that I was blackballed and then wrongfully terminated for reporting Bullies that harassed many, which were protected from upper management, Verizon’s EEO and Verizon’s Corporate Security. They are often the managers and I saw it first hand, and I did not like what I saw. I was a manager but one with morals and respect, it was how I was brought up and it carried with me through the Marines and in life.
I brought charges up against Verizon for creating a hostile work environment and wrongful termination against me and just had my trial. It was in Federal Court in Boston Massachusetts “Dias v Verizon” and we lost! We did not lose because of the lack of evidence as we proved everything beyond a reasonable doubt, but for other reasons, which I cannot discuss at this time as the appeal is in process. Many of these items discussed were not a part of my case but it will be in this federal investigation of Verizon. You do know that often in court a lot of evidence gets suppressed, there are time restraints and even with all the proof, things don’t end up your way. Fact, some innocent people are in jail and some guilty ones are in the streets.
Whether I won or loss, I was contacting your agency about Verizon. This was the reason why I called in in late 2012, and I have a lot of evidence to prove
Verizon’s neglect to do the right thing.
In December of 2012 I was offered by Verizon a bit under $500,000 “not go to trial, along with a gag order (for both my wife and I), never write a book on what I went through, and never let this information get any other agencies (especially Federal) that will continue to expose them in this manner.” I did not take the money because laws were broken and lives were destroyed at Verizon. Verizon has bought their silence and covered up too many violations over time, and it’s time to hold them accountable. Just look at their record in the court filings all over the country. Look what the recently did to their disabled workers. They had to pay out $20,000,000, and the list goes on – they just don’t care at all about anyone or the safety of their employees.
I know they are one of the largest taxpayers in the Country. I know that Verizon sponsors many charities, foundations and many sports teams. I do not believe that financial status or popularity matters, as our constitution protect us equally. Verizon’s money should not guarantee them freedom form cruelty and injustice, no one or company should. They should not be able to process false information to the EEOC and other Federal or State investigative agencies, and not be held accountable for it. I have proof in their own testimonies, statements, and their own documentation to prove what I am stating is correct.
Over time, I had compiled an established abundance of evidence through Verizon’s own statements to internal and external EEO’s, position statements to the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination, through depositions, the trial transcripts, emails from present and former employees. I can prove Verizon has violated Federal Laws and employees rights. I can prove Verizon tampered with evidence, conspires to terminated and targeted selective employees, obstruction of justice, perjury, neglect and the inhumane treatment to their employees and me – having full knowledge of this in the process.
Verizon receives over 104,000 Internal EEO Complaints a year, with a base of 235,000 employees almost 50% of their employees are complaining of EEO Violations. I now have proof Verizon is coving them up and lying to the agencies on the investigative outcome. I will not get into great detail of the facts of the case in this letter, as that will come with the submission of evidence, letters, comments and additional documentation. I do not want to overwhelm the agency with all the necessary information needed to begin the investigation against Verizon, until I know the contact if that is ok. Also, there will be many additional Verizon employees and / or their statements as well submitting information as well, so if you can please provide me with an investigation “ID / Reference Number” and I will pass it on as well. I will also send your agency hundreds of combinations of letters and comments that I have personally received so you can see the truth. I will place you in touch with an active Director that will also support what I say is true. This will be a long investigation but in the end, I will provide you with enough to prove Verizon’s cover-ups and conspiracies to harm their employees, and they do it with a threat to suppress them. Technicians are complaining about the abusive treatment from management and forced to work in an unsafe work environment and nothing is string done. The Verizon EEO is squashing the complaints not following through and the grievance procedure and arbitration is taking way too long. By then, more safety issues and incidents are happening.
I am confident that the United States Department of Labor “OSHA” will conduct a full and complete investigation into the claims that will be brought forward to you about the malicious conduct and negligence of by Verizon Communication in the best interest of all. Verizon violated my human rights and the rights of other employees. Verizon imprisons the voices of many by threating them of their family’s livelihood if they speak of about the abusive acts to anyone. That daily threat is abusive, stressful and inhumane and by far unacceptable in any manner. Verizon does a great job at trying to isolate each event and make it look as though a technician is the problem, sometimes they are correct but most times I would believe that its Verizon’s neglect to do the right thing is what causes most incidents at Verizon.
Verizon stole my peace of mind and the peace of mind if many others that were good employees, just speaking up about abuse.
I am bringing thing to your attention that are facts, and I bet your agency has even more that we as Verizon former and present employees even know. For your to get to the truth, you need to speak to the employees, and their unions, the CWA and IBEW they will get too you’re the truth, do not ask the PERPERTRATORS, their answer will be the same thing that you already uncovered in you previous investigation, “VERIZON COOKS THE BOOKS” – THEY LIE!
Please understand it took years for these employees and me to have the guts to finally ask for help and jeopardize our careers and families lives, do not let us down. I will be waiting for someone to contact me to begin this investigation.
“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Neal W. Dias
Healthy Workplace Bill Press Conference in Boston Massachusetts July 7, 2012 (Video):
Healthy Workplace Bill Press Conference in New York April 30, 2012 (Video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6pPe2gqGRI&feature=share
Civil Rights and Anti-Bullying Leadership Summit in Hartford Connecticut at the Legislators Building, August 9, 2012
**(Neal W. Dias – fast forward to 02:41:56 – 02:56:09)**
National Workplace Bullying Press Conference in Washington DC October 15th 2012
Petition: The Healthy Workplace Bill
Bullying at Verizon – Enough is Enough / Petition: