Diabetic, not disabled

22 10 2008

I work for a fairly large company, which has a union (I’m not a part of it).  The union’s contract is going to be up in April and there are very strong indicators that they are going to strike.  To prepare for this, they are training non-union people to cover the union jobs during the strike.  My strike assignment location is in Detroit.  In case you didn’t know, I live in St. Louis.  This is a problem.

I’m not sure what to do about it.  There are forms to get a medical waiver, but the items listed on the form don’t really apply to me.  Things like lifting, stooping, walking, standing, etc.  I can do all of those things.  (I’m assuming this form is for people w/ bum hips, neck problems, etc)  There’s nothing physically wrong with me.  And overall, I am not opposed to performing work during the strike.

However, I do know that being forced to work in Detroit is going to cause serious problems.  If something goes wrong, I’m 8+ hours away from my husband, my family, and my excellent medical team.  I’d be forced to go to an ER where my blood sugar will not be a priority.

Not to mention, that during the first few weeks, there is a mandatory 72-hour work week.  Yup, 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.  Then after that, it gets lowered to 60 hours a week (10 hours a day, 6 days a week).  I will guarantee you that will fuck up my blood sugar.  Will I get lunch breaks?  Will I get dinner breaks?  Will I be able to test my blood sugar whenever I want?  Will I be able to get snacks when I need them?

Clearly, the assignment in Detroit will negatively affect me, but what can I do about it?  My A1c is 5.5, so from a medical perspective, I’m normal!  I shouldn’t need accommodating!

I know the Americans with Disabilities Act has been improved to better protect people with “invisible” diseases, but I’m not sure what other points I need to make.  This is a very tricky line between “disabled” and “normal.”




One response

22 10 2008

I’ve seen this happen through my dad’s employer. Definitely discuss this with your doctor & others, and have him/her write a letter stating exactly what you mentioned in the post. You could add a cover note saying that while you are willing to work, your employer should be aware of the added accommodations you *may* need, should something happen. Your 4th paragraph kind of sums it all up, in my view.

After that I would talk to your HR department and see if there is any way they can place you closer to home should a strike occur.

Good luck!

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