Everybody deserves respect. And, I expect that all employees of Lane Community College believe their leaders should behave in a respectful manner. I like to think I demonstrated that during my terms on the Board of Education. My career is marked by my work as a teacher and union leader to serve and protect the rights of others.
It isn’t always easy to stand up for what you believe is right and just. But, standing up for what is right and for the rights of others is critical to democracy and a civil society.
During my more than eight years on the Board of Education we worked to protect the college and the rights of its employees. And, I enjoyed nothing but gracious and respectful treatment from staff and management at all levels. Like now, times then were challenging and disagreement common. Still, I left the board feeling I had done what I could to protect the values and mission of Lane Community College.
That is why I was appalled when Bob Baldwin, the president of the Lane Community College Employees Federation, decided to take some parting shots at the Board of Education and then make me a victim of his abuse. This has become an unfortunate conclusion to what had been one of the best experiences of my life.
A little background. Reading the Lane Board minutes from July, posted in September, I learned of public comments from Baldwin, directed at the board, that I deemed incorrect and misleading. I questioned the president via email to seek clarity or confirmation regarding the accuracy of the report. The response was deplorable.
In my professional life I had never received such vitriol from a leader. The LCCEF President’s response included name-calling, was personally insulting, demeaning, and potentially defamatory. What’s more, he made no attempt to address the issues raised.
I have been told that the LCCEF President is a very deliberate person and acts in a very intentional manner. I can then only conclude that his comments directed at me and shared with others were intended to be insulting and offensive. I decided now I would have to stand up for myself against this abusive behavior.
Baldwin’s behavior overstepped the bounds of decency, professionalism and the constitution of the LCCEF. It was also consistent with the behavior of a bully. I learned through years of working with juveniles, such behavior is unacceptable and must be challenged if change is to occur.
I filed an official, written complaint with the LCCEF Executive Committee seeking a hearing in hopes of gaining understanding and remedies to ensure compliance with the LCCEF Constitution, basic principles of professionalism and common decency.
After months waiting for official response to the complaint, it became clear the LCCEF leadership was not going to take official action. When an LCCEF official offered to arrange a facilitated meeting between me and the LCCEF president, Baldwin refused to meet. Based on my experience, I was not surprised. Still, that is not how civil leaders resolve disputes. Failure of the Executive Committee to be responsive to complaints of misbehavior suggests a systemic concern.
The members of LCCEF have a right to know how they are being represented. When their members and especially leaders overstep their own guidelines and commonly accepted standards, it is the responsibility of us all to stand up and demand all members — in fact all persons — behave appropriately.
Research is clear that abusive behavior will continue until the peer group establishes that such behavior is not acceptable. The LCCEF could adopt standards to make that clear. Their parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers-Oregon, did that in 2008 with its resolution in “Support of Dignity, Respect, and Justice in the Workplace.”
It is now up the members of LCCEF to convince its local leadership to demonstrate their commitment to standards of decency and professionalism. Failure to act is an endorsement of abusive behavior. LCCEF members are better than that and deserve better representation. I would hope that members will stand up and tell their leaders and representatives that words and their intent matter.