order non hybrid seeds LandRightsNFarming: Re: Please go to Website

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Re: Please go to Website

On Thu, Oct 6, 2011 at 4:00 PM, <LesLift@aol.com> wrote:
Go to Website:   www.Net-WE.com    and see Agriculture article.   Susan
In a message dated 9/30/2011 12:02:57 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, LawrLCL@aol.com writes:

The White House

President Barack Obama

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC   20500


September 29, 2011




Dear Mr. President –


I wrote to you on May 19, 2011, requesting your assistance for women and minorities in the USDA, Forest Service, particularly women in Region 5, California. Shortly thereafter, Michael Blake, assistant to your senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett contacted me. Mr. Blake assured me that the White House was very concerned about the civil rights violations against USDA women and minorities. Unfortunately, little-to-no action has been taken to stop the egregious abuses, and they continue with no accountability for the perpetrators. I am writing to you again to request your assistance.


Mr. Blake advised me that he spoke with Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Joe Leonard, who would look into things, respond to the White House and they, "would take it from there to determine the next steps." Unfortunately, any steps Secretary Vilsack or Dr. Leonard took did not make a change in working conditions for women in California or USDA employees elsewhere. Mr. Blake has now moved to Chicago to work on your campaign and the women have been left to fend for themselves against abusive men and managers that physically abuse them, sexually harass them, and put them in harm's way. Secretary Vilsack seems to care little that women have been financially ruined, put in the hospital due to workplace violence, have been hospitalized for emotional breakdowns, are in fear for their lives, and have become suicidal. I am asking you to care Mr. President, because without your help it will continue.


 The situation in Region 5 is so dire that we women were compelled to establish our own crisis intervention group. Women can call and get support when management frightens, intimidates, harms, and isolates them. Last month I had a suicide call from a Hispanic woman. Today, I had a suicide call from a Native American woman. Does someone have to die before Secretary Vilsack pays attention? Last week, a Native American firefighter was going to quit her job because male firefighters wrote, "whore" on the wall at her fire station. It was the last straw for her. This is the same woman I spoke of in my last letter who was sexually harassed, physically assaulted, and forced to urinate in front of the men. We women rallied to support her and keep her employed. Yesterday, we had mediation for a Native American woman who almost committed suicide this year from the treatment she received from forest, region, and Washington management. The agency tried to coerce her into resigning to get a settlement agreement – a clear message that she is not valued. This month a Native American pregnant woman was forced to work in an office filled with mice and feces, putting her and her twins' health at risk for Hanta Virus. We tried to get it resolved, even contacting the Secretary's Office – they did not care and refused to act. We had to call the Governor's office and speak with the Vector Borne Disease Control specialists who were so concerned about her health or risk of death that they intervened.  The U.S. government practiced genocide on Native Americans for many years – it appears that USDA has reinstated this policy in the Forest Service. It is shameful.


Tribal leaders throughout California are becoming increasingly concerned about the treatment of Native American women in the USDA, Forest Service. I believe you will hear from them soon.


Women of all races and ethnicities, Asian, Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, are being treated similarly – sexual harassment, workplace violence, threats, intimidation, stalking, career barriers, isolation, shunning, lack of equal opportunities, unwarranted discipline, termination. As I said in my last letter to you, "Mr. President, at this point in time you would not want your daughters to work for USDA." I can only imagine that Mrs. Obama, with her anti-violence against women stance must be horrified to learn about USDA.


Men of color are not fairing much better. Nor are people with disabilities. They too, undergo humiliation, intimidation, lack of opportunities and unwarranted adverse actions. Workplace bullying in the USDA and Forest Service is rampant, pervasive, and crosses all lines of gender, race, national origin, physical ability, and sexual orientation. Retaliation is institutionalized.


In Region 5, a class action on behalf of women was filed this year because of the abuses.  A Native American class action is being discussed. Filing costly EEO complaints and lawsuits are despairing acts by employees who tried everything else - to no avail, while Secretary Vilsack and Regional Forester Randy Moore turn a blind eye to the problem. The U.S. government can no longer afford to frivolously waste the taxpayer's money on these matters. There is a better way to deal with the issues. The USDA Coalition of Minority Employees has presented viable and cost effective solutions to Secretary Vilsack but he refuses to acknowledge The Coalition or discuss the solutions. I believe this attitude will continue unless the White House becomes involved.


I am aware that the White House recently contacted the Secretary's Office again. They are likely concerned that women, minorities, non-minorities, Black farmers, union employees, and concerned citizens will be in Washington, DC next week to raise their voices about the USDA civil rights violations and abuses. Women from the California Forest Service will be there, standing in front of USDA to be heard.


And Mr. President, if USDA leadership tells you that they are working on the problem, do not be fooled. The incidents discussed in this letter happened recently – four months after my last letter to you; three months after my communications with Mr. Blake; many months after the Shirley Sherrod fiasco; and many, many months after Secretary Vilsack's creation of policies that are allegedly designed to change the "Last Plantation." 


In conclusion, I am asking for answers to the following questions. Why is it that you are allowing these egregious acts against your base to perpetuate? How many more months do women and minorities have to suffer until the White House does something?  And finally, Secretary Vilsack serves at your pleasure. How could you possibly be pleased with the horrific USDA and Forest Service working conditions he has condoned by his lack of action? I now believe only the White House can answer these questions. Please, President Obama, please answer these questions. It is of utmost importance to thousands of your constituents that you address this matter.


Please feel free to contact me at 530-776-8582 or Coalition President Lawrence Lucas at 202-744-4384.





/s/Lesa L. Donnelly

Vice-President, USDA Coalition of Minority Employees



cc:         Senate Ag Committee

                House Ag Committee

Senator Charles Grassley

                Congresswoman Maxine Waters

                Secretary Tom Vilsack

                Lawrence Lucas, President, USDA Coalition of Minority Employees