I work for the Fund for the Public Interest’s Telephone Outreach Project. I sit on the phone all day. We had chairs that were ergonomic and filthy. They were ergonomic though. My then boss, made a big deal about how our office equipment was going to be updated.  He said that we would be sitting at brand new folding tables instead of the sloping old folding tables. Of course we could expect to be sitting in front of the vintage monochrome CRT monitors that we had decorated with marker and paint and collages. The fund wouldn’t spring for energy efficient monitors. Then we could at least adjust them. We sometimes use it as a matter of fact when we are calling people for funding.  Chelsea used to joke “there is a hole in my chair because I care”.   We found ourselves stunned when we saw the new space, in the basement of an office building. Just a little stunned because the walls are grey and our monitors were scrubbed clean. There are no windows. There is literally no room behind me where I sit. I can still see the look on the director’s face, as he tells us about the great new chairs. It was clear that would be no doodling on the monitors, the room was to stay “clean”, clean and pretty, more professional. The chairs are chrome and they don’t swivel, adjust or roll. The only thing you can do with the chair is push it in or pull it out.  Everyone sits at the same level, whether you are 6 feet tall or 5 feet tall. They are metal frames with molded Masonite for the seat and back rest. Everyone sits on the same stiff contour whether they are bony, round or toned. It has been suggested that sciatica, lower back pain and shoulder pain result from these chairs. I hate my chair. Hate it. I can bring a pillow to sit on but I am already too high for my work station. I cannot look at my screen without slumping over.  I can get a note from a physician and bring in my own chair, or use one of the ergonomic ones in the office. We were told the chairs were selected in lieu of roller chairs because they didn’t want to ruin the carpet. Which isn’t very nice to begin with and there have clearly been roller chairs in the past on that carpet. One can see the tracks left by the past tenants. The way we are packed into that space I assume it has little to do with the carpet and more to do with the square footage of the office. It would be so easy to be hemmed in if there was a fire in the office. There is one way in and it is very hard to walk in the office when it is full.  The worst part of the whole issue is that our directors think it is ok to sit in non-ergonomic “conference” style chairs for hours at a time. The lack of care for our wellbeing is the worst part. It is a non-issue to them. 



03/21/2013 7:03pm

My back and hips are killing me from those damn chairs. Wish I made enough money to afford that doctor's note....

John I
03/21/2013 7:04pm

Thanks Kristin! I'd like to add the fact that the Fund will not allow us to bring in our own chairs if our back is hurting unless we have a doctors note. This is a clear change of policy since the union was put in place which is illegal. And its just a shame that a progressive nonprofit would force it's employees into chairs of such low ergonomic quality that a doctor said "you'd have to be superhuman to not develop back problems in them".

Kris H
03/23/2013 4:00pm

Thanks for sharing your story, Kristin. Carpet over Caller's? Shame.

04/09/2013 7:06am

Yeeeaaahhh, when your job requires you to remain sitting for hours at a time it's kind of important to provide proper seating. I understand what they mean about the carpet. Buying chairs and then loosing whatever deposit they put on the space would suck. What they didn't do was any research. There are totally ergonomic chairs that do not have wheels. Or worst case scenario if those ones are too expensive, replace the wheels on the chair with feet. I'm sure any Home Depot or Jerry's would have them. This whole scenario just sounds like warfare. The powers that be at The Fund are not dumb. I'm sure they know there are other options besides the chairs you have, but they chose the uncomfortable chairs to, wait for it,.. make you uncomfortable! Where is you union rep during all of this? Make a huge stink, show them feasible options, keep pushing with what your doctors say if you've seen one.


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