Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Workplace bullying a serious problem

Esque Walker 

Monday, April 11, 2011 
It was a remarkable day for the Texas Healthy Workplace Advocates in
On March 24, in the wee hours of the morning, eight women from the
grass roots organization Texas Healthy Workplace Advocates gathered on
the north steps of the state capitol in Austin waiting for the doors
to open. 
The women arrived armed and ready to meet with lawmakers in several
political districts across the state of Texas. The women had traveled
from Alvarado, Corsicana, Dallas, Fort Worth, Graham, and Houston to
speak to lawmakers about the prevalence and the devastating
consequences of workplace bullying. The group was there to shop a bill
for the next legislative session the Healthy Workplace Bill; we need
this bill in Texas. The group presented accounts of their bullying
experiences to lawmakers. 
There has been an increase in the number of complaints of workplace
bullying in Abilene, El Paso, Houston, and in Dallas and Tarrant
Counties. People in Texas are suffering because of abusive work
environments. Until there are laws we will continue to be plagued with
this problem. 
One member in the group stated, “I don’t want to die! But I can no
longer afford to live because of workplace bullying.” The stories
shared with representatives were powerful, touching, and captured the
essence of the problem. We just went in and did what needed to be
done; we told the truth about what has happened to us and other
members of the group. Please do not be fooled by the appearance and
the size of the group, there are a number of men in the group that are
targets of workplace bullying and there are a number of members
throughout the state of Texas. 
Overall there is disbelief that this is happening in Texas, shock
about the number of targets in Texas, and this behavior is not within
the legal statutes. In one of the representative’s office, they
couldn’t believe that workplace bullying is happening in Abilene. “It
is a Christian community” is the belief there — I explained to the
aide there is nothing Christian about workplace bullying. I felt sorry
for the guy. He said he had grown up in Abilene and he couldn’t
believe that a “Christian community” such as Abilene would allow this
to happen; he was devastated. 
I presented a profile of the Texas cities by ZIP code that have the
highest concentrations of targets; the list showed only 171 targets in
the cities of Abilene, Austin, Conroe, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El
Paso, Fort Worth, Garland, Houston, Irving, Killeen, Midland, Round
Rock, San Antonio, Temple and Waco. 
Texas lawmakers have been slow to focus on workplace bullying and the
devastation it is causing, however, I believe a small victory was won
last October when Mayor John Cook and the city council in El Paso took
an initiative to recognize bullying as an adult issue by issuing a
proclamation declaring the third week of October “Freedom from Bullies
week” in El Paso. This is the first official elected to an office to
show interest in the well-being of the people he serves. 
Workplace bullying is defined as repeated, health-harming mistreatment
of one or more people by one or more perpetrators that takes one or
more of the following forms: verbal abuse, offensive conduct/behaviors
which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating and work
interference sabotage. 
Additionally, workplace bullying is violence — it is emotional and
psychological destruction of an individual for the satisfaction of
This issue needs immediate attention. Not only does the behavior
impact the targets, their families, and the organizations; society as
a whole is impacted through social welfare programs that targets
forced from the workplace must depend on for survival. 
If bullying could be stopped and money once used to support targets on
social welfare programs, Texas politicians would be able to balance
the budget and have money left over for other things. 
Esque Walker is the Texas Coordinator for Texas Healthy Workplace

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