Public Comment

Death of a Worker on the UC Berkeley Campus

From Toni Mendicino
Friday April 18, 2014 - 10:35:00 AM

Dear UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirk and UC President Napolitano,

I attended a memorial gathering yesterday in honor of Mr. Damon Frick, a coworker at the International House on the UC Berkeley campus who was killed on the job in a horrible and sad accident last week. I am shocked that the Chancellor's Office has yet to acknowledge this tragedy to the campus community. I only found out about Mr. Frick's untimely death from my coworkers in AFSCME 3299 and because I read the Daily Cal independent newspaper. I understand that Mr. Frick, who was a dedicated worker and a father, was killed while wearing a vacuum strapped to his back and while alone on a high lift cleaning windows at the International House. I can't imagine that these are safe circumstances for a staff person to perform work and hope that at the least full financial restitution to Mr. Frick's family and changes in UC health and safety practices will be implemented immediately. 

I myself have picketed numerous times over the years at the International House in my off-duty time in support of service and administrative workers who have been treated poorly by I-House management. It seems to me that the unionbusting, cutbacks, and layoffs of UC service workers statewide, including the serious understaffing of custodians, which is a huge ongoing problem if you talk to any custodian on campus, has lead to not only increased work injury and stress but now actual death. To not acknowledge Mr. Frick's death on the job and to appear to be possibly covering up for negligence on the part of the International House and UC Berkeley administration screams to me a deafening silence and in that way speaks volumes about how low-paid workers at UC are valued, or rather not. 

I look forward to hearing from you about this matter. 


Toni Mendicino