Connecticut Humane Society Firing More Union Supporters, Not Enough Staff Left To Properly Care For Animals, Workers Claim

February 7, 2010
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In what supporters charge is an attempt to destroy a successful unionizing drive, the head of the Connecticut Humane Society last week fired two more employees and put two more on probation – all of them union supporters.

That brings the total union supporters fired since December to five. Supporters of the workers believe the two just placed on probation will also be fired soon and other union backers are getting poor reviews.

Until this year, the Humane Society rarely put anyone on probation, workers told me. In the past 10 years, they said, only one person they know of was placed on probation and that was for a serious violation.

At least one of those put on probation recently was told in writing that he needs to “smile” more and to have better “eye contact” with other workers, according to internal documents made available to me by Cathy DeMarco, spokeswoman for the Coalition For Change, a group she founded after she quit working for the Humane Society last summer. The group has more than 120 members, including present and former employees, volunteers, and donors.

“This is a blatant attempt by Richard Johnston to fire anyone who supported the union, and it is resulting in lack of care for the animals at the shelter,” DeMarco told me today. As the result of the firings the shelter is so short-staffed, she said, it “is in a state of crisis.”

Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars in high-priced lawyers, DeMarco said, the Humane Society should be hiring more workers.

Johnston is both the director-president of the center and chairman of its board of directors. He is a lawyer, real estate agent and a former state senator. He has yet to respond directly to any allegation against him, but through his spokeswoman has threatened libel suits.

The wave of firings and disciplinary actions began in late December after a successful union drive by the Machinist union when workers voted 18-15 to unionize. Johnston fired three of the union supporters in December – including his former assistant and another worker who was a finance clerk. Two of them provided me with signed statements alleging financial wrongdoing on his part as well as accusations of bullying the staff. I turned their statements over to the state attorney general’s office, which is now investigating the claims.

Johnston also ran afoul of OSHA when he led a group of managers in a successful effort to hide dangerous chemicals as a team of two OSHA employees were preparing to inspect the Newington facility after a worker was injured inhaling bleach. OSHA is now investigating what happened in that Sept. 11 inspection as the result of my column.

Only six workers now are left to care for the animals in Newington, DeMarco said, while the number needed according to national standards is 18.

She and other society sources say that volunteers are being asked to take on the work of full-time workers who were fired. At least one volunteer has written me saying that he will not help until the fired workers are rehired at the 129-year-old institution – one of the oldest and best known charities in Connecticut.

At the bottom is one page from the probation form for Ryan Sheehan requiring him to smile and make better eye contact.  The following is Demarco’s full statement:

“The Newington Headquarters of the CT Humane Society is in a state of crisis at this time.

Back in November, the animal care staff was at 50 percent of the recommended ratio of workers to animals determined by the HSUS (Humane Society of the U.S.).

In December of ’09, the first adoption counselor was terminated after 6 years of hard work and service to CHS.

On Friday, Feb. 5th a second worker was terminated after 5 years of service for not turning in an insignificant form by a new management imposed deadline.

And on Feb. 6th, a third worker was terminated for supposedly not following proper protocol when trying to rescue a cat. In fact, this one worker who is credited with saving many lives was actually set up. A manager put her name on the cage of a cat but did not inform her or get this worker’s approval that she would indeed take the cat.

Anyway, CHS is now functioning well below any kind of adequate level of animal care. They are pulling in volunteers, friends, and hiring temps to cover animal care, adoptions, and the front desks. Many of these people are untrained and lack the relevant experience and credentials.

The Coalition has asked that the BOD intervene and re-instate the 2 most recently fired employees AS WELL AS place a cease and desist order on the president and his managers with regard to any further probations and/or terminations.

As you can imagine, the quality of care that the animals were receiving prior to the firings was barely adequate but now it is a very serious situation. Animals do not get fed, cleaned, exercised, or obtain medical treatment for hours- sometimes longer.

The few remaining employees will probably be fired in the very near future which is also the president’s way of putting an end to their legal right to organize. The CHS management has done everything in its power to block the formation of the union. Many thousands of dollars, donated money from the hard working citizens of CT, have been spent on high-priced attorneys to fight the Machinists Union. The employees are being fired one-by-one but it is ultimately the innocent, homeless animals that are being negatively impacted in a huge way.”

NA_100207_236280162 (Ryan Sheehan probation report page 2)

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69 Responses to Connecticut Humane Society Firing More Union Supporters, Not Enough Staff Left To Properly Care For Animals, Workers Claim

  1. Deborah Malina on February 7, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I am writing to my other co-volunteers to see if we should stop volunteering until this situation is resolved. I don’t believe we should enable this behavior!

    • Lindsay on February 7, 2010 at 1:55 pm

      The employee fired on the 5th was told in a prior year review she was required to greet each and every co-worker as soon as she entered the building in the morning. That not being enough, this last review required that she now smile and make eye contact with each greeting. She was told she “condemmed animals” yet she has on many occasions voluntarily driven on her personal time to rescuers and groups in other states to bring animals that would have otherwise been euthanized. She held a constant list of contacts with various breed rescue groups and individual rescuers for dogs and cats she felt were not fairly evaluated and given the proper chance. One such dog was adopted by his rescuer, and she couldn’t imagine life wwithout him. I myself adopted a cat who was marked for euthanasia due to a simple heart murmur. She pointed him out to me one day while I worked there, asked if I’d foster him to see how he’d be in a home. I was told he wouldn’t live past 5 months old and there was no point to take him because it would not be fair to try and adopt him to a family – no one wants to see a kitten die. Well I adopted him in November 2007, he’ll be turning 3 years old this July and is the most vibrant, healthy, loving cat I have ever owned. If not for her keen eye, he would have been euthanized at 12 weeks old. These are the people he is firing, the ones who really care.

      • Focus on February 7, 2010 at 9:01 pm

        You must be talking about Lynn, who bent over backwards countless times to make sure that animals that were on the chopping block could be fostered or given to rescue organizations so that they wouldn’t be killed.

        Not only did she go above and beyond for the animals, but she has exceptional people skills and was a favorite of the volunteers.

        I have a feeling that Megan will be the next to go. She works her ass off, is great with the pets and with customers, and is dealing with an injured wrist…but none of that will matter. I’m sure that her file has been padded with bad reviews (or will be) and then she’ll be gone too.

        I don’t think that the management can even fathom how disgusted people are with them. And by people, I mean the public at large, at this point.

        • Lindsay on February 7, 2010 at 11:33 pm

          Actually Amanda 🙂 When I worked there she and I both drove to Rhode Island to deliver animals to a woman who allows them to die at her home. Amanda continued to make these drives, and Kitty actually started to abused the priviledge even when the woman was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and no longer able to care for a large number of animals due to her own health, trying to coax her to take more.

          • Lynzee and Malfoy on February 8, 2010 at 5:47 pm

            YEAH AMANDA! LOVE YOU!

      • Karma on February 7, 2010 at 9:09 pm

        I have to laugh at how they demand the employees to always smile, even if you’re in the break room. They need to look in the mirror & practice what they preach as most times they have the biggest scowls on their faces. I mentioned this to a manager one day & she said “Oh, they must have a lot on their minds and that they are very busy.” Busy? Hear that Kitty Baker??? That was your supervisor saying that. Why then are we chastised for saying that we are busy? Oh that’s right. We need to do as you say, not as you do. You are the boss. For not anyway. Enjoy your moment in the sun. You will eventually start to feel the heat!

        • Lindsay on February 7, 2010 at 11:34 pm

          I use to practice the “SWAGG” protocol – wagg with a touch of sarcastic flair!

    • Lindsay on February 7, 2010 at 1:58 pm

      Deborah, as a former worker, don’t worry about the animals being left in the dark. Managers will be forced to care for them, and as I stated in another post, if need be there are other organizations who will step in to remove the ramianing animals. You will only be abused if you stay there. He’s asking for you volunteers to treat this as a job, and that’s not why you do what you do. It’s time for the public to see whats going on, that it’s not just a group of disgruntled employees.

      • James on February 7, 2010 at 2:13 pm

        Well said–and the sheer number of people who have spoken out testifies to the fact that this is not simply a question of a couple of disgruntled employees. It’s testimony to a pattern of mismanagement, and, frankly, abuse, under Richard Johnston.

      • Concerned too on February 7, 2010 at 2:19 pm

        It looks like Mr, J ‘s plan is to make everyone quit, staff and volunteers who are not on his side. The animals will be helped if not by us, the state will step in to help. It has to hit rock bottom before it can get better. I don’t make the rules, but we have to resolved this problem in any way we can at this point.

    • Mayor Of Dogtown on February 7, 2010 at 2:36 pm

      Yeah I agree Deb…..it’s time we step back and say we’re not going to stand for this. We give up our FREE time to them and are now getting abused for it. We did it for the sake of the animals. Now it’s at the point where we absolutely have to stop going in. Let MR J and his daughter start cleaing poop out of the cages. Oh wait, he doesn’t even clean up after his own dogs at the shelter, he pages the staff to clean up after HIS OWN dogs when they do thier thing on the grounds. We cannot be a party to his big plan. As much as it hurts…we have to STAY AWAY!

      • another volunteer on February 7, 2010 at 9:35 pm

        I’ll be dropping my 2 shifts this week in protest!

        • Deborah Malina on February 7, 2010 at 9:57 pm

          That’s your decision. Just please commicate to the staff WHY!

          • to deb on February 7, 2010 at 10:01 pm

            e-mail has been sent

      • Volunteer on February 8, 2010 at 11:39 am

        I’m very torn. I want to support this cause in any way possible but the people I help, people i LOVE, need me. If they go then I’m gone, but I can’t leave them right now. And I feel like we’ll just be giving RJ what he wants – a whole new ignorant crew of volunteers. He won’t care if we leave, we’re easily replaceable! Ugh….so confused.

        • Mayor Of Dogtown on February 8, 2010 at 4:45 pm

          Keep in mind VOL that the people you loved there are mostly gone and they need you now more than ever to help in the fight. He is USING the volunteer’s to show that he doesn’t need a staff. IN turn, he doesn’t even have to pay us to step in. While we cannot make you do anything, think about it and make your decision. Think about the five employee’s who were let go for the silliest of reasons. A smokescreen for union involvement. There is safety in numbers, we have to hit rock bottom before we can pick things back up again….

          • Scottish Lass on February 8, 2010 at 9:03 pm

            So you are going to allow the cats and dogs you claim to care about to “Hit Rock Bottom” just to prove a point. How very humane of you!

          • Lindsay on February 9, 2010 at 7:32 pm

            Do you honestly think the animals will be left to die? Because that’s naive. The rock bottom applies to the organization. Someone will ultimately care for the animals, the managers are not going anywhere so it would be them taking on the animal care work for once – because they have no one to manage! We have contacts that can step in in a heartbeat to take these animals out of there if and when the time comes. If he wants to board himself up inside the building and have a stand off, so be it, but not one person on here is saying the animals will go hungry.

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  3. Karma on February 7, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    I confirm that this article speaks the truth however sad it may be. People, please stand your ground and unite. It is with numbers that we will win. How sad to harrass these poor employees and then fire them for silly reasons such as in the name of rescue.

  4. Mayor Of Dogtown on February 7, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Are you kidding me with this evaluation?

    Ryan needs to TRUST MANAGEMENT…..? This is ludicrious. These are the people who are running the organization into the ground.

    Wanna talk WAAG? It states that the shelter lives the WAAG theory. I’ll bet if you ask some of the volunteer’s if management follows this rule. Some of the volunteer’s know everyone in the building…some do not really know anyone and go un noticed. How many times has Mr Johnston walked past me without so much as making eye contact…that would be EVERY TIME….practice what you preach, an evaluation is not just words on a sheet of paper, it should be factual and show proof. This is a joke. I’m truly embarrassed to be a part of this organization.

  5. Pug Lady on February 7, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    I am a volunteer and I came in today to find that yet another CHS employee was let go that I have worked with since I have been there. I am extremly sad. I am there for my love of animals and as I said in a previous update when I retire down the road I would love to have worked there part time. This person let go was a awesome individiual who loved what they did, shared their knowledge and loved the animals. They were at the events that were sponsored, worked extra when help was need and also fostered animals. Every time I ended my shift they thanked me. I am torn regarding no longer continuing my volunteering with all that is going on. I feel extremly sad that there are CHS assoociates who don’t know if they could be next but continue with love to do what they need to do for the animals. I felt proud volunteering my time as well as financially but I am defianatly torn in regards to continuing but then again I do it for the animals and the associates who are still at this point employed..

  6. Deborah Malina on February 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I am recommending, based on the response here, should volunteers decide not to make their shifts this week that the clearly call or e mail in WHY!!! Please don’t just “not show up” A clear message needs to be sent.

    I know I would like to personally speak with Mr. Johnson and express my concerns as I was a senior management professional for 13 years at a different, larger nonprofit here in CT>

  7. anony mouse on February 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    542.75 feet. That is how long the animal care staff is allowed to walk a dog in the care of the Connecticut Humane Society. Volunteers know that they can walk dogs back into the woods, or walk around the grass area multiple times. Staff members, however, will be disciplined for these actions. Staff members are allowed to take the dog on a single, short lap, consisting of approximately 542.75. I would ask everyone who has a dog to count your paces the next time you go out. When you get home, measure the number of paces you need to clear 15 feet of ground. Do some simple math, and viola! I think you’ll all realize just how pathetic 542.75 feet really is.

  8. OMD on February 7, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Okay so we all know who is next right!

    • Mayor Of Dogtown on February 7, 2010 at 9:02 pm

      Well, theres only two left in adoptions…..they won’t fire the lone counselor who did not vote when the union vote took place….he’s safe….we can do the math from there.

      Incoming, has four people…one is on final warning….we know the next two to go …..

      • kjh on February 8, 2010 at 4:38 pm

        I cannot believe how short staffed they are and management continues to fire people! Shame on all that are involved for not “doing the right thing”. Isn’t that the famous words of Richard? “We always do the right thing”. What a joke! I’d love to see Richard, Janice and Alicia down in the kennels working like dogs and replacing all those they let go. That would be a site! Shame on those managers that don’t the integrity or management skills to take care of their staff. This can’t continue to happen. Something has to give.

  9. Deborah Malina on February 7, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    So what is the conclusion here? How can we volunteers best help those dedictated to the mission of the Human Society?

    • Gone but never forgotten!!! on February 7, 2010 at 9:29 pm

      I agree with 100%! But like you said how do we not hurt the animals.

      • Deborah Malina on February 7, 2010 at 9:56 pm

        See Lindsey’s comment below

    • Mayor Of Dogtown on February 7, 2010 at 9:54 pm

      We have to band together and send Melissa an email saying until things change, we have to step back. We’re being forced to work under horrible conditions. We’re being asked to come in longer shifts, more shifts, we’re being asked to work the job of a paid staff FOR FREE! Sure we don’t mind helping out, but we’re not helping the staff any longer, there is no staff. This is exploitation of our kindness as volunteers. Yes we are there for the animals but the animals will be taken care of, just not so orderly. If we stick to our guns, they HAVE TO make a move. This means either managers will be scoopin poop or they will have to get dogs out of there and ship them off to rescues to be taken care of properly. We have to do this in the short term to fix the place in the long term.

      • Lindsay on February 7, 2010 at 11:28 pm

        Hang in there guys. Like someone said, you gotta hit rock bottom first and we’re not there yet. This is no longer about wanting to be the last one standing. Those employees who voted no for the union are safe, anyone else is not. HE WILL FIRE EVERY EMPLOYEE WHO VOTED PRO-UNION. There should be no doubt about that. If we stick together there is saftey in numbers. And we are growing by the day. Not a day goes by that I don’t tell someone new about the wrong doing. Please don’t put up with the abuse because you think the animals will go uncared for. That won’t happen. He may be cruel and vindictive be he’s not stupid. Cruelty to animals via no employees would be career suicide, and while he’s bound to go down eventually, he won’t go quietly. Management WILL step up. They don’t hate the animals, they just can’t relate to people. I do agree you should state your exact reasons for no longer wishing to volunteer and be very specific and to the point. No hearsay, no feelings, pure facts. “We are unpaid volunteers, and until things chage we will not return, we will not be scapegoats for the abuse.” We’re getting stronger by the day!!

    • cat lady on February 7, 2010 at 10:18 pm

      As a volunteer, I understand that there are serious issues with management & staff that need to be dealt wih very quickly and the employees let go need to be rehired, but I don’t see how the volunteers not showing up to HELP THE ANIMALS is going to do any good. The animals are already going to suffer with a lack on donations and customers not coming into adopt because of all these issues, I don’t see how us not showing up is going to make things any better. It’s only going to hurt the animals who are just in the middle of a very unfortunate situation.

      • Mayor Of Dogtown on February 8, 2010 at 9:34 am

        Cat Lady, this is a normal reaction to what we’re trying to accomplish. You will have to decide what is right for you. Let me just state it this way….The animals DO come first and this is NOT about the staff as much as it is the animals care. Do you realize there are only TWO adoption counselors left? There are only FOUR incoming people left. That is a total of SIX employee’s in animal care to care for the entire building of animals. That would mean, the cat condo, the main dog kennel, law enforecement, first stray, second stray, incoming, ward 4 and the isolation kennel. Do you realize how many animals that is and what the ratio of people to animals that is. Its’s staggering. Mr J’s big plan is to “use” volunteer’s to replace the staff. This accomplishes two things in his eyes. It shows that the staff can easily be replaced (if we allow it) and he doesn’t have to pay us so he saves payroll and gets the job done. It’s almost like crossing a picket line in my eyes and as a very dedicated volunteer, I draw the line there. I’m ridiculously mad that he’s put us in this situation. We volunteer our time because we want to help, we don’t want to take paid jobs away from people. You can email George at this site for contact information as to how else you can help or the coaltion for change site.

      • Marge on February 8, 2010 at 6:48 pm

        Cat Lady, unfortunately if the volunteers keep the shelter going then Mr. Johnson and management will drag this out for as long as they can and in the long run the more animals will suffer and be put down. Those in charge of this shelter need to step down and management removed.

    • Joyce T on February 7, 2010 at 10:34 pm

      Isn’t trying to break the union illegal? Where is the attorney general’s office on this?

      • Mayor Of Dogtown on February 8, 2010 at 9:28 am

        Union busting is totally illegal so and the AG’s office has been contacted and are investigating. Apparently it takes time, our point right now is that the animals don’t have time. They need us to be their spokesperson and get help NOW!

        • Mer on February 8, 2010 at 12:47 pm

          I have spoken with people at the State (not the AGs office). I was advised that phone calls and in person visitations will make the most difference in keeping this matter in the forefront. The AGs office has many matters bigger than this one to deal with. Even if one person calls a day, asking for a follow up, inquiring about the status, it WILL help. Otherwise, they won’t think it matters and bigger issues will get their attention.

          Remember, these people are public servants – they owe a duty to the residents of Connecticut – but we have to do our part and clearly and consistently convey to them what is important.

    • Another Volunteer on February 8, 2010 at 12:46 am

      This is my first time posting. I love volunteering at CHS, but I feel that if I continued volunteering after everything that’s been happening, I’d be no better than a union scab, which goes against my grain and my history.

      I have a few questions though. First, how many volunteers are planning to stop volunteering, and for how long are you planning to stop? If you are planning to stop unless and until certain action is taken by CHS, what action are you demanding? (BTW, if you are planning to stop volunteering until certain action is taken, I think your volunteer days at CHS will be over because management won’t take action on that type of “threat” or “ultimatum” so there’ll be a stalemate between you and CHS.)

      Another question — it seems as if the management problems at CHS predate the union efforts — and I expect are at least partly the catalyst for the efforts to unionize — but when and how did these problems start? Johnston has been director there for about 20 years, right?. Was he good for some years and then turned bad? Or was he bad from the beginning? I’m just trying to figure out what the impetus was for all the bad stuff that followed.

      I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to stop volunteering. I love volunteering at CHS. I love working to help animals, and I love all that I’ve been learning there. But, as I said above, I don’t want to be as bad as a union scab.

      I’d love to hear back from all the volunteers (and staff too!) with your thoughts and answers.

      Thanks!
      A.V.

      • Mayor Of Dogtown on February 8, 2010 at 9:39 am

        AV…sadly we don’t have a master list of email addresses of volunteer’s so we have no idea how many can and will stop volunteering. I’ve been there on Saturdays and have noticed a severe drop in dog walkers and cat handlers. Now this could be because the weather has been crappy so who wants to walk dogs, but when you sign up to walk dogs, you do so in any weather…The coalition will gladly address your concerns if you contact them directly or through Mr Gombassy at this site.

        These problems have been building for years. He’s always been a hitler type of President but he’s never gone as far as he has in the past six months to go out of his way to make life miserable for all under him. Have you noticed how many district manager’s have come and gone in the past few years? I thought he had a great catch when Kelly Hoyt was there but he broke her down to where she had to get out. Look at the seniority of the staff that has left in the past few years….they had MANY years in the place but at some point, they said, this place is not being run right and it’s time to move on. The tide started to turn where he had more new people that he could control but when they banded together and tried to stand up for themselves, he got evil and thinks he’s unstopable. He’s got a fight on his hands alright and sadly he’s using public donations to pay for lawyers to fight this. Hitler has to be taken down.

      • Lindsay on February 8, 2010 at 12:32 pm

        Johnson has always been, and will always be, a dictator. The people he keeps close to him are those who allow themselve to be controlled like puppets. Anyone who stands up, is gone. it’s hard to find any long term employees there who do truely follow the mission statement, because in order to be there that long and put up with him, you’d have to be pretty heartless and insensitive. A new head honcho would have a better grip on his managers and wouldn’t allow the things that go on. Someone who is open to talking one on one with the animal care workers and not distancing himself from them like they have the plague. It just comes down to the right people came through the shelter at the right time and are willing to stand up to him. I left 3 years ago, and at the time, I wanted so badly to call up news reporters and have them investigate him, but my friends who still worked there were terrified. Scared he would find out who initiated it, and in turrn take it out on them. I was asked to keep quiet for their sake. But thankfully he’s ticked off enough people now that they can feel safety in numbers. And now that we have the momentum going, there’s no turning back until we get the change that we wanted…

        • kjh on February 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm

          You hit that nail right on the head! I remember when Richard told me my first day as a CHS manager that I should offer to help the staff clean kennels…they would respect me more. That was a no brainer since I had just come from a job in which that was the culture and expectation at my former corporation. Once I completed his request he did everything psooible to cause distance from me and my staff. In fact, when trying to solve a dilemma with the cleaning issues surrounding the trailer I worked sis by side on a beautiful summer day with several of the Incoming staff…including Ryan Sheehan. After the cleaning I mentioned to Janice about how nice it was to work with the staff and her only comment to me was, “Well, it’s a good thing Mr. Johnston didn;t see you.” I couldn’t belive it. Everything is about false impressions. That’s not who I am and that’s why I left. And wat about the WAAG concept. What a joke! If you get caught talking to a co-worker and it’s not about work it’s not acceptable. Ther’s no humanity of any kind. And I agree, Lindsay, Richard is the grand Puppetmaster! I feel for those who allow themselves to be controlled by him. Very sad.

          • Lindsay on February 8, 2010 at 9:27 pm

            Thanks K, good to see you get fired up on here! You were a great manager and it’s unfortunate that the good ones never lasted long enough.

          • kjh on February 9, 2010 at 10:34 am

            Thanks, Lindsay. Unfortunately, I was not encouraged to be the manager I would have liked to. I would have really enjoyed working with all of you under different circumstances. I’m glad you moved on to a better environment. 🙂

  10. Yet another former employee on February 7, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    I feel an overwhelming urge to add, that Mr. Johnston is the most socially awkward human being I have ever had the displeasure of meeting. He will not make eye contact with you, and you’ll be lucky to get a hello. And in the time spent at CHS I had never ever seen a smile or even an inkling of appreciation for me being there or any of my coworkers. As far as these managers go, J.L has used her emotions to make decisions consistently regarding the lives of animals, as well as her interactions with coworkers, I can only wish Ryans review was in place of hers. As far as K.B “manager”, she is nasty to her staff, and has no regard for anyone but herself. Lastly E.C “manager” has no business working with animals let alone people, probably the least friendly person on that whole staff. Who are these people dictating that their staff should always smile, make eye contact, and spend less time with the animals, when clearly their the ones who should be on the chopping block. I truly hope this will all resolve and they all get what they deserve, and those few staff members left can someday work in peace.

    • Lindsay on February 7, 2010 at 11:38 pm

      Ever shake his hand? Oh wait he won’t he’s a germaphobe. I was once told by a manager he witnessed him shake someones hand through his jacket pocket. He did comment on my shoes once, said he had a similar pair, until I said I got them at Wal-Mart, he said “oh, mine were much more expensive” and he walked away. I couldn’t help falling over laughing when he left! It was so absurd!!!

      • Been there done that on February 8, 2010 at 12:38 am

        Lindsey your 100% right about the hand shaking. I found that out one Christmas when he wished me and the the assistant d.m. a merry Christmas and stuck his hand in his coat pocket to shake hands. Now they’re constantly on the staff and giving warning for not WAGING when I actually witnessed him day after day walk by the front reception desk and not even acknowledging his own mother who would then sit there and shake her head. I guess its a case of do as I say not as I do.

        • Lynzee and Malfoy on February 8, 2010 at 5:23 pm

          I guess Mr. J. has never been kissed my a dog! Do he even pet his own?

      • Mayor Of Dogtown on February 8, 2010 at 9:20 am

        HA HA….too funny…were they croc’s….*smile*

        In hindsight, you could have said, well on my salary, WalMart is all i can afford! I will add my two cents….I’ve been around 4 years and only ONE time did he even speak to me. He asked Kitty what my role was there (adoptions) and perhaps He (me) could help clean in the cat condo…..that was the ONLY time, other than that I didn’t even get so much as a nod. Talk about the failure to WAAG, Wag, WAGG…however they spell that acronym….

        • kjh on February 8, 2010 at 12:49 pm

          They probably were! He commented on my beloved rubber shoes. I started only wearing them on weekends when he wasn’t around.:0

          • Mayor Of Dogtown on February 8, 2010 at 4:36 pm

            ha ha…I know who you are now!!!! *smile*

          • Lindsay on February 8, 2010 at 6:46 pm

            LOL, the initials didn’t give it away?! and no i didn’t have crocs, they were like the suede merrels only walmart brand

  11. volunteer[soon to be ex] on February 8, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Is it true that they actually fired somebody over the phone while they were home sick??
    How pathetic and cowardly!!!!

    • hmmm on February 8, 2010 at 8:53 pm

      yes they did on a Saturday afternoon.

      • You heard it here on February 8, 2010 at 10:03 pm

        It was actually around 6 p.m. that they made the call. It was even on speaker phone with the 3 blind mice (T.L., A.M. & D.M.) on one end & the poor employee (now ex) on the receiving end. It was most likely scripted and wouldn’t doubt it if Dick was listening in. What a bunch of cowards, losers. Real nice bedside manner. But what would you expect from people who take euthanizing lightly. M ~ sit up & take notice of the company you’re keeping. Don’t stoop to their level.

  12. uberVU - social comments on February 8, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Facebook by Connecticut Watchdog: Connecticut Humane Society Firing More Union Supporters, Not Enough Staff Left To Properly Care For Animals, Workers Claim http://bit.ly/9bzJLo

  13. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by George Gombossy, James, Great Lakes Enviro, maureenlord, Coalition for Change and others. Coalition for Change said: RT @ctwatchdog CT Humane Society Firing More Union Supporters, Not Enough Staff Left To Care For Animals, Workers Claim http://bit.ly/9bzJLo […]

  14. fred james on February 9, 2010 at 10:22 am

    I volunteered at the Humane Society in Newington last year, and it was an incredibly hostile work environment. Employees bad mouthed each other relentlessly–when one person left, she would be badmouthed, and when she returned, anyone who left would be badmouthed.

    Beyond that, the employees complained constantly about managment’s abusive behavoir. No one ever thanked me for volunteering: I only got feedback when I made a mistake. And it was very easy to make a mistake; there was an overabundance of rules and rarely an elaboration of underlying principles.

    I was not surprised to learn later of the union vote, although no one ever discussed a union in my earshot. I had to leave just for my own mental health. It was horrible, just absolutely horrible.

    • Mayor Of Dogtown on February 9, 2010 at 4:10 pm

      Fred is correct about one big thing…there is an overabundance of rules. The communication is usually sparce and most of that lies from managements’ inability to communicate properly to the staff and volunteers.

      I have volunteered for four years and while yes it was a hostile work enviroment, the animal care workers are all friendly towards each other and often stick together even at the expense of getitng written up for socializing. Maybe it was part of the “act” so that nobody would see them together. I do know that the medical staff was accused of getting along too well and were threatened with being swapped to the fox clinic or something silly like that. It’s all laughable. If Mr Johnston saw you in an adoption room with another employee, he immediately would step in thinking you were talking about him. At one time there was a rule that you could not be in a room with the door closed. It was nothing short of a concentration camp.

      I feel bad if you were never thanked but during the course of a day in the life of a volunteer…..you do sometimes go un noticed and it isn’t because the staff is uncaring or unfriendly. It just is that if you don’t get to know them, you tend to sorta blend in. You have to understand that they see volunteers come and go all the time, you get to know them, they leave when winter comes because they don’t wanna walk dogs in the snow. They don’t wanna walk dogs in the dead of summer. You do tend to get to know the volunteer’s who come in all the time and the ones who come in on the holidays, the ones who come in on Xmas morning to help with the clean and feeding of the animals and THEN go home to their own families. In no way am I saying that every volunteer is not appreciated but it’s impossible to know all of them and thank all of them all of the time.

      • fred james on February 11, 2010 at 10:38 am

        I don’t doubt that the balance of blame lies with management. After all, their charge is, or at least should be, to prevent hostile work patterns from taking root.

        But the employees I was around were vicious to each other–and complained about how whiny and snotty some of the volunteers were. I’m sorry if that doesn’t fit your preordained Worker vs. Bosses narrative.

        • Karma on February 11, 2010 at 10:46 am

          Fred, I am so sorry your time @ CHS was so terrible. I cannot imagine any one of the employees being “vicious” to one another. We all worked together as a team. And we never complained about volunteers. We loved the volunteers as they made our jobs so much easier. Are you sure you’re talking about CHS in Newington? Your statements/accusations are just too farfetched.

        • Also a Volunteer on February 11, 2010 at 10:59 am

          I’ve been a volunteer for almost 6 years and have no idea what you are talking about. There have been volunteers there that have done stupid careless things (like letting dogs interact outside when walking them and ending up in the middle of a dog fight) and sure they have to be addressed, but I don’t know where or who you were working with to have such horrible things to say about them.

          • fred james on February 11, 2010 at 11:25 am

            Just one example: I was sitting in the break room at CHS Newington, and a volunteer walked in. The three employees in the room were very nice to her, but as soon as she left, they began attacking her. When one of the three employees left the room, the other two employees began attacking him.

            This was typical. Maybe you were that volunteer.

          • Also a Volunteer on February 11, 2010 at 11:59 am

            LOL! Maybe! Fred here is a tidbit of information for you – people talk about people. Happens everywhere. Happens at my real job, happens at the grocery store I shop at, etc, etc. I am treated well there and even if someone says something behind my back…well I won’t know about it now will I? I don’t volunteer there to be coddled and meet my new BFF. I go there to help care for homeless animals. As long as I’m treated nicely and with respect, I have no issue. Sounds like Fred needs to put his big boy pants on.

          • Concerned too on February 11, 2010 at 12:02 pm

            Okay Fred so we know that this day in age people are mean. It comes from the top. Some people get along and some don’t. I’m sorry your experience at chs was horrible, and nobody should be subjected to that situation. I hope you told someone in charge.

  15. UnionLarry on February 9, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Will there be a rally or a protest or informational leafleting outside the facility? That might help stir the public that visits CHS, especially if media is made aware.

    Everyone should thank George Gombossy for being on top of the story.

    • Concerned too on February 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm

      Thanks George, keep up the good work!

  16. […] to provide to the CHS board of directors. She provided me with the letter to give more contrex to my column about the most recent firings last […]

  17. InTheKnow on February 27, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Any new news?





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