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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Disgruntled County workers threaten mass exodus

Lee County D-O-T workers threaten to call it quits if work conditions don't improve. They say they're being harassed and intimidated by their supervisors and they've had enough. Since Fox 4 Investigator Mike Mason began this investigation, he's spoken with dozens of workers but the problem is that most of those workers won't go on-camera because they're afraid of losing their jobs.

Bob Maxey is an equipment operator at Lee County D.O.T. and has been with the county for 9 years. He has a clean record but says supervisors are getting downright dirty, "Workers do have rights, we're being told to shut up."

On Wednesday, D.O.T worker Steve Sherman also spoke out, saying county supervisors are using sleazy tactics to run employees out of their jobs, "It's counterproductive to be chastised and be heavy handed in certain areas of departments with the employees."
Maxey says supervisors hold monthly meetings with employees but it's just a waste of time, "You won't hear anything out of most of the workers here because they're afraid for their jobs." Maxey says supervisors are required to conduct meetings but discourage input from employees, "they'll tell you how it's going to be and if you raise your hand in opposition against whatever their plan may be at the time you're kind of singled out you know it's like 'what is your problem? Do you have a question?' And the guy he'll generally shut up and melt back into the crowd because he doesn't want to be singled out like that in a group there."
Maxey and Sherman both agree upon which supervisor is using intimidation tactics at their particular D.O.T. office on Zip Drive in Fort Myers. Maxey says, "The Director right now is Clay Simmons. He makes you understand verbally that it's his way or no way."

Clay Simmons - Director D.O.T. Operations
Four in your Corner's Mike Mason went out to the D.O.T. Operations Center on Zip Drive to speak with Division Director Clay Simmons but was told Simmons was out for the day. While there Mason spoke with some of the employees in the office who said they'd like to talk to us about problems at the workplace but they're afraid for their jobs .
The maintenance supervisor in charge, Chuck Speake, called Simmons on his cell phone but claimed, "I didn't get a hold of Clay but if you guys want to make an appointment and come back he should be here tomorrow and I'm sure, he's not going to ‘not' to talk to you.
Workers feel this is really a countywide problem which needs to be handled from the top down. Maxey says, "I think the County Manager should be looking into it, talk to the working people here at D.O.T. off to the side and ask them what's going on."

Karen Hawes is the Lee County manager and Fox 4 left Hawes on her cell phone but received no response. We are told she's out of town. One thing is certainly clear; if County officials don't do something quick many workers say they're hitting the road. Maxey warns, "Other people have told me as soon as they can find another job they're gone. They want out of here they're done with this."

If you are a public employee and are having problems at work Fox 4 would like to hear from you. Head to and click on the ‘Viewers' Voice' tab or call or text us at 239-206-Fox 4

To view the Fox 4 TV report click on this link:

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