Former FAP employee comes forward with claims of intimidation

A former Portland State laborer, who worked for Facilities and Planning, said he was intimidated by a supervisor who appeared to be threatening the laborer with termination.

A former Portland State laborer, who worked for Facilities and Planning, said he was intimidated by a supervisor who appeared to be threatening the laborer with termination.

The laborer, Fred King, says that in June, lead carpenter for FAP John LaDu obtained a termination letter that had been given to another employee, and having written King’s name in place of the other employee’s name, showed it to King.

King, who was laid off a month later, said LaDu told him, “I’m just letting you know that this kind of stuff can happen,” which King took as a threat.

After receiving a memorandum on the incident from Construction Supervisor Gail Hamilton, Associate FAP Director Nancy Grech called King and LaDu into her office and asked LaDu to apologize.

“‘I didn’t mean to threaten you, I didn’t mean anything by it,'” King recalled LaDu saying. “It wasn’t a real apology.”

Asked about the incident, LaDu said he could neither confirm nor deny that it happened.
“I can’t tell you anything about it,” he said.

Grech would not comment on it, but King said he was asked by her what could be done “to make this go away.”

The incident
On June 5, King and two other coworkers were assigned the task of moving all offices in the University Studies suite to prepare for construction.

According to King, LaDu gave his crew about four hours to complete the task. King said he went to see another supervisor to ask for help.

“We didn’t have enough manpower to complete it in four hours, so I went and got some help from the supervisor of construction,” King said.

In an official memorandum recalling the incident, Hamilton confirms this fact. Hamilton provided King with several workers and the crew finished on time.

The following Monday, June 8, King said he was called into the office by LaDu. According to King and the memorandum, LaDu asked King why he didn’t ask for permission to go get help.

“I was expecting to be called in and be congratulated,” King said, “I thought I did a good job.”

Instead of a compliment, LaDu showed King the termination letter to a maintenance worker who had been laid off in April.

In the field where it showed the maintenance worker’s name, LaDu had scratched out the original employee’s name and written in King’s name.

According to King, it was clear to him that LaDu was making a threat.

“He said, ‘I’m just letting you know that this kind of stuff can happen,'” King said. “He was upset that I went behind his back.”

The other supervisor
LaDu was hired in November of last year as a lead carpenter for FAP.

Ray Schaffer, King’s former boss who worked at Portland State for almost 14 years, was the building maintenance supervisor during King’s short time at the university.

According to Schaffer, LaDu’s hiring process was odd because he was hired from outside, not from within FAP.

As building maintenance supervisor, Schaffer said he has power over all of the labor force in the carpentry shop, including LaDu. The decision to discipline King would have been within Schaffer’s power.

King said he told his boss of the incident that same morning, and Schaffer said he knew right away how LaDu had obtained the termination letter.

“Sometime during that morning, [LaDu] pilfered into my personnel cabinet and took out this document,” Schaffer said.

Schaffer said he later asked LaDu whether he took the termination letter from his personnel file cabinet, and LaDu admitted to the act.

“This is a very serious thing,” Schaffer said. “You don’t break into people’s stuff without permission. I tried to find out what the laws were about compromising personnel files.”

According to the memorandum sent to Grech, Schaffer spoke immediately about the incident with two other higher-ups, Hamilton and Ken Irwin, plant operation manager. The two leaders then called King into the office to verify the information.

The memorandum ended with Irwin and Hamilton asking Grech to take action against LaDu.

“We do not want our hard-working staff to be treated with such disrespect and scare tactics,” reads the memorandum.

On July 10, a month after the incident happened, King said he was laid off as part of the university budget cut.

LaDu was still employed at this time and continues to work as a lead carpenter.

Other comments
Grech did not comment on the incident as of press time.

King said Grech called him to the office and showed a real concern about the incident.

“Her exact words were, ‘What can we do to make this go away?'” King said. “I was upset…I want this to blow over so I can keep my job.”

According to King, Grech later called LaDu into the office where he was asked to apologize to King.

The aftermath
According to both Schaffer and King, LaDu did not receive any disciplinary action from Grech except for his apology to King.

“He’s still working there, getting paid as a lead carpenter, but other employees don’t like him—he’s seen as a snitch,” Schaffer said.

King said he received a lot of sympathy and support from his former coworkers when they learned of the incident.

“Everybody knew about it and they were pretty upset,” King said. “People were saying that it’s total B.S. what happened—I have no recourse.”