Braille Monitor February 1985
The Cincinnati Association for the Blind is one of the best known sheltered workshops for the blind in the nation--not, one hastens to add, because of its forwad-looking practices or its progressive philosophy. As Monitor readers know, it stubbornly resisted the right of its blind employees to organize until the National Labor Relations Board and the federal courts forced it to abide by the law. Even then, it dragged its heels as long as it could before implementing the court's order. Now, the Cincinnati Association for the Blind is at least technically abiding by reasonable standards of behavior, but recent occurrences make one wonder. Margaret Stinnett is President of the Cincinnati Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio. Recently she wrote to President Jernigan:
November 16, 1984
I am writing to let you know what has been happening at the Cincinnati Association for the Blind since the national convention. A new personnel director, Ann Sauter, has been hired and that is when all of the changes for the worst started.
Earphones are being placed on employees during their probationary period in an attempt to increase their quota. This has been done without prior consultation with the employee. On November 8th, Terry Strader of Northern Kentucky underwent such an experiment. He regarded it as degrading and humiliating and talked with leaders of the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Chapters of the NFB. Letters of protest have been sent to Milton Jahoda to protest this treatment. The earphones also placed Mr. Strader in possible danger as all sound was blocked.
Another bone of contention has been the unexcused absences. We are permitted four per year. I requested time off to let the fumigator into my apartment. Mrs. Sauter called the apartment manager to verify if what I had said was true. Another employee, Bernard Kelly, requested time to attend a funeral. Mrs. Sauter contacted his relatives as well as the funeral director for verification. Morale is low at the Association.
Four employees have quit aleady and more are threatening to do so.
I am planning to tell my fellow workers that we are having an affect on CAB's staff. Otherwise they would not be taking such measures against us.
Under date of November 10, 1984, Margaret Stinnett sent the following letter to Milton Jahoda, the Executive Director of the Cincinnati Association for the Blind:
November 10, 1984
Dear Mr. Jahoda:
RE: Humiliating and discriminatory treatment accorded Terry Strader. Terry Strader started his probationary training at the Cincinnati Association for the Blind on September 4th and has been meeting quota to the present. On Wednesday afternoon of November 7th, Mr. Strader was called into the office of your Personnel Director and was told that he was meeting production but that he had been having periodic lapses. On Thursday morning of November 8th--without prior consultation--earphones were clamped on Mr. Strader. This was done in an attempt to block out sound and to increase production.
Mr. Jahoda, we of the Cincinnati Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind regard this form of experimentation with CAB employees as degrading and discriminatory. No employees in private industry are singled out for this sort of experimentation, nor should this be the case at CAB. Should there not be prior discussion with employees about this type of treatment, and should this not be done with all probationers rather than just one?
If there had been any sort of emergency requiring quick evacuation of the premises, Mr. Strader would have been at a distinct disadvantage. I await your prompt reply.
Margaret Stinnett, President
National Federation of the Blind of Ohio