Labor Dept. employees blog mold woes

Workers complain of damp conditions

Union members working at the Department of Labor Building, also known as the Plywood Palace, have started a blog to document the conditions under which they work daily.

The state of Alaska recently renewed its lease with the owners of the Department of Labor building at 1111 W. 8th Street. Workers have reported symptoms similar to flu, which they blame on a leaky, moldy work space

Workers in the DOL building have complained of allergies triggered by mold in the building.

The Division of General Services leases the Department of Labor Building for the state of Alaska.

Jade Bickmore is an employee of the Department of Labor. She said she didn’t create the website but is helping track down information.

“We thought it was a great idea to have one place that we can start gathering the information,” Bickmore said. “It’s a work in progress.”

Bickmore said the site was inspired by the state signing a five-year lease with the building’s owners Juneau I, LLC.

“We were extremely disappointed when we heard the state was going to sign another five year contract,” Bickmore said. “That was very very disappointing.”

Bickmore said she is concerned that the state is not moving workers out of the building during remediation work. The last time this happened it caused an allergic outbreak among employees, she said.

The site is informational, Bickmore said, not an attempt to take a shot at the state or the building’s owner.

“I’m not setting out to hang them out to dry,” Bickmore said. “I’m trying to fight for myself and others. That there is a medical issue behind this.”

Bickmore said she receives emails and calls almost daily from frustrated co-workers whose managers or doctors do not believe their illness. She said she started researching moisture and mold in buildings to address her own sickness.

“I’ve gotten medical books, I’ve gone to Center for Disease Control, Occupational Safety and Health Agency Environmental Protection Agency, World Health Organization and the Mayo Clinic and across the board they say people can be affected by mold,” Bickmore said. “Where do you go when you have health issues and it seems to be directly tied to a workplace and building that is know to have mold?”

People with allergies or asthma, chemotherapy patients, the elderly and infants are the most affected, Bickmore said.

Bickmore said building mold is a bigger problem than most realize.

“We have an issue in this state that we probably need to start looking at,” Bickmore said.

For more information visit www.waterdamagedbldg.weebly.com

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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