Imperiled Cemetery Workers Say They Have Tapes

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Editor's Note: This story first appeared in the most recent issue of the Norwood News, which is on the streets and online now.

Workers at Woodlawn Cemetery protest proposed layoffs. (Photo by David Greene)

By DAVID GREENE

Defiant Woodlawn Cemetery workers and their supporters recently held a boisterous rally to protest the outsourcing of 23 of the cemetery’s 38 caretaker jobs. Cemetery officials say the outsourcing is a necessary cost-cutting move, but workers claim it’s payback for publicizing their concerns about discriminatory practices among supervisors.

Now, in an attempt to save their jobs, workers are exploring all options, including legal action and the possible airing of tapes that they say expose discriminatory practices among cemetery supervisors.

“We have evidence to show and prove some of the discriminatory practices and documentation of grievances,” said one worker who requested anonymity because he feared retribution. The worker said the tapes in their possession could put management in a bad light.

Over the summer, after it hired a firm to investigate workers’ discrimination charges, the cemetery fired at least one supervisor and acknowledged that it needed to change its training practices. But minority employees said little had changed and the practices were continuing.

Workers were back protesting at the cemetery on Sunday, Jan. 16. Many of the union supporters in attendance were wearing shirts with photos of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., using their day off to protest on the birthday of the slain Civil Rights leader.