There were 6 employees left on property at the time I started typing this, 4 of them will be staying here to work in the store, do maintenance and finish projects around Stovepipe Wells. The other 2 were myself and the accountant lady. Not sure where the accountant lady will be going.
The accountant lady has worked here for almost 14 years for 3 different concessionaires and had a few different job titles while she has been here. Her commitment, loyalty and many endless nights working overtime right after she had already worked her own day shift, when other employees called out sick, doesn’t mean anything to our new company owners. In the end she still had to pack up years worth of stuff and find a new home.
While most of the country has rules about “stay-at-home” and trying to enforce a 14-day self-quarantine, employees here at Stovepipe Wells had to pack up and leave. The corporate office didn’t care if we had a place to go or not. You would think that we would be safer in this remote location in Death Valley National Park, but our safety isn’t their concern. So we are being shoved out into civilization, where this virus is running rampant.
Before we left, someone (I ain’t naming who because I ain’t sure who will read this post) made a comment about how the labor board should be notified about the company evicting all its employees. This someone didn’t have the nerve to do it themselves but really thought it should be done. I didn’t understand why if they “really” believed it, why they just didn’t do it. So I stayed up till way after midnight sending emails and/or Facebook messages to ABCnews, the LAtimes newspaper, the Inyo county sheriff dept and a few others that I can’t remember now.
Well someone that I had contacted about the eviction, contacted our general manager. Maybe even a few different people, because the general manager came to talk with me, asking me to “make them stop”. Now to be fair, it wasn’t his idea to evict everyone. He was just the middle-man, following corporate orders. The owners of the company and the people in the corporate offices are the ones that should have been hounded by the labor board and any newspapers.
One thing I did get from the talk with the manager was “don’t burn my bridges”. Something else that he mentioned that I had not really thought of, was the fact that all employees signed paperwork when we first started working here, stating to some effect that we wouldn’t say anything negative about the company. After working here 21 months, I no longer have a copy of that paperwork so I don’t remember the exact wording.
Now I happen to believe in freedom of speech, and telling me that I can’t talk about anything including a company’s actions is like telling me that I no longer have a right to free-speech. If you worked anywhere else and witnessed a crime like murder, child abuse, embezzlement or whatever and didn’t report it, then in my opinion you are at fault as much as the people who committed the actual crime acts. By having employees sign any paperwork stating that they won’t say anything negative about a company, is just a way for the company to feel secure in the knowledge that it can do whatever it wants.
Technically we were told during our meeting (March 19th) that we were supposed to be gone on Monday (March 23rd). We were given 4 days to pack up our belongings and find a new home. I finally left on Wednesday. Thankful to the general manager for letting me stay 2 extra nights. I wasn’t totally sure where I would even be going until Tuesday. I rode up to Beatty with the general manager’s wife and paid for my new room on Tuesday. Then went back to Stovepipe Wells to do a little more packing.
A friend from Furnace Creek (another resort in Death Valley) came over on Wednesday morning to move my stuff up to Beatty, in his car…it took 2 trips. The friend was lucky because Furnace Creek was letting all their employees stay in their housing and getting 2 free meals every day. The friend said that maybe 1/3 of employees at Furnace Creek (“The Oasis”-as it’s called now) left property to go home and stay with their families. The other 2/3 were going to stay in the employee housing in Death Valley, and wait for this coronavirus epidemic to be over.
I will never understand why the company in charge of Stovepipe Wells, couldn’t offer its employees the same opportunity. There are a few other national parks in the country that were also allowing employees to stay in concessionaire’s employee housing. I wonder how many of the employees will actually return to work at Stovepipe Wells after this epidemic is over. Before everyone left I heard a couple employees say that they refused to return because they could never work for a company who treated its employees like trash and just throw them out. Well I guess if their next job makes them sign the same paperwork that Ortega did, then I hope they realize that any future job they get could legally do the same thing. All because they are to scared to stand up for themselves.
Well I will never know, because we all just followed orders and finally moved away. I moved into a little room in Beatty, Nevada. For the last week I have had no television, no radio, no phone, no newspapers and no internet. I think I have taken this “social-distancing” to the extremes. I will have lto the local gas station to use their wifi and send this.
If this post is the equivalent of “burning my bridges”, then I accept my consequences. My coworkers (including the ones who annoyed me) deserve more than they got. Pops, I don’t want to fight you either but some bridges are worth destroying.