I am walking out of the shadows and claiming credit on this one for a few personal reasons, as well as for the fact that Cedar Point has recently been in the news and I am sure there is some curiosity about what sort of employee conditions could lead to a situation where 16 Employee's were recently arrested for rioting.
During the period I wrote this I was still an employee of Cedar Point (mostly because it was either that or homelessness) and fearing for my job I put in place several deliberate pieces of misinformation to keep what one upper manager once described as the "Eye of Sauron" of human resources from discovering the source. I was succesful in this, and did manage to coordinate for better conditions from inside the park as well. With the exception of a few spelling errors I have left the text entirely intact. I leave it to the reader to decide the credibility of this account for himself.
Just like the title says, Cedar Point is a steaming pile of shit company, home office of a steaming pile of shit corporation known as Cedar Fair LLC. Cedar Faire owns around 20 amusements parks around the country, but it is Cedar Point that is their home and their flagship. It is also by far the worst place to work at of all their parks. Cedar Point has degenerated from what was a pretty cool place for a college student to earn some money during Summer into an almost farcical capitalist dystopia. The company has developed an attitude that it owns its employee's, body and soul, and they are imminently disposable. People are expected to be able to work any amount of hours under any conditions without experiencing fatigue. Upper management has grown completely out of touch with its employee's, and indeed reality. There is a genuine belief amongst some of the higher ups that the reason they are having so many problems filling jobs is because the economy is improving. It never occurs to them that perhaps people don't like working 13 hour shifts 6 days a week in the wind/sun/rain, or that people don't want to live in conditions that are in some cases only moderately better than a refugee camp. They never really consider that perhaps if they paid at least minimum wage, or offered overtime compensation, perhaps their turnover would be less. No, instead they instruct their managers to impress upon the employee's how cool it is to work at Cedar Point, or how great a completed contract looks on your resume since (This is a literal quote from a VP) "Everyone knows how hard it is to work here, so when other major companies see our name on a resume they know they have a good candidate in front of them."
Not everyone who worked there will agree with this statement, and they would be right in doing so. Despite its many flaws, it is still possible to have a pretty cool time at Cedar Point, but this depends greatly upon the specific job/work location you get, and who your managers are. Some people will genuinely have the summer of their life working there, although this number is much smaller than it once was. Others will by the company propaganda hook line and sinker, truly believing they are lucky to be able to work at such a fantastic place. Some wear it as a mark of pride that they are enduring the conditions with a smile, snidely looking down on any who raise objections to conditions as "weak" or "whiners". Some will develop a bizarre sort of Stockholm syndrome and freak out at the suggestion that perhaps all is not well at never never land. But most will simply perform their duties and grunt through it. Jobs are hard to come by, especially in North Western Ohio, and Cedar Point does offer a steady income and relatively cheap housing. For people who cannot complete their college degree's for one reason or another, it becomes sort of a holdover.
Now, a brief note about me. I worked at Cedar Point for over 5 years, but I do not wish to reveal my identity. I bounced around several departments and eventually rose to a position where I sat in staff meetings that the VP's occasionally attended. I am still pretty well known there, and funnily enough, liked. I will tell as much as I can without painting a target onto my identity. This does sadly mean I have to withhold some pretty good stories, but I have a good reason. After I put this thread up its pretty likely they will find it, and they will immediately start an investigation to determine who I am. Their corporate culture is such that if they do determine who I am, it would be trouble for my family/friends still working there. This is a company that will literally fire you for posting anything that could be construed as derogatory to them or another employee on facebook, and they do have a dedicated squad whose sole job is to trawl the internet looking for any reference/mention of them, as well as to browse through employee facebooks. Even innocuous "I hate this place/my manager" type wall posts that don't even name names have been known to get people fired. So with that, I will tread carefully, but I intend to tell as much as I can.
First off, Cedar Point wasn't always a steaming pile of poo poo. Up until around six years ago (when things started on the downhill path) it was actually a pretty decent place to earn a tidy sum over the summer before going back to college. CP paid wages of about $1.30-$2.00 over minimum wage, and on top of that there was a bonus for completing your contract. The bonus was typically 1 dollar per hour worked over the course of your contract. More if you worked during the "Halloweekends" (Special weekend only days during fall from late august till Halloween) This usually meant around a thousand dollars or so for an employee who stayed all season, and was an incredibly strong motivator at the end of a season. Staffing traditionally falls to a low point towards the end of a season, people wind up working longer hours with fewer breaks, and usually the last 2-3 weeks are done with no days off. However, starting really in 2007 things began to change. Let me break it all down.
Pile of shit 1: Wages
Ohio has traditionally had one of the lowest minimum wages, hanging at around $5.45 an hour for years until the federal government raised the minimum wage. Cedar Point's response to this was to take the increases out of the bonus. When the minimum wage was raised by 50 cents, they cut the bonus by 50 cents. When the minimum wage was raised again, they cut the bonus down to a paltry 35 cents. Eventually equilibrium was reached at $7.30 an hour, 5 cents below minimum wage, with no bonus. Cedar Point is able to do this because they classify as many of their employee's as possible as "seasonal". Meaning no minimum wage laws, and no overtime laws. They will classify anyone they can as seasonal, even employee's whom work 40+ hours a week year round. Sometimes this is accomplished by shifting employee's around between jobs during the year, other times it is just simply done and not a word is said.
Prior to this there was a variety of payrates for different jobs around the park, now there is one payrate, $7.30 an hour. The only way to improve this is to get promoted, but promotions only bring more headaches and no real increase in income. For example, a "Team Leader" (person in charge of an entire store or ride) only makes 15 cents more than his subordinates. An "Assistant Team Leader" only makes 10 cents more, and only during "in charge time" when the Team Leader is away from the location. Otherwise they earn the same $7.30 as everyone else. If you are one of the talented lucky ones who gets a salaried position (takes 5-6 years for most positions) you are in little better shape, as once the amount of hours you work is factored in, you are only making around $8.50 an hour)It is not uncommon for an employee with a particularly heavy schedule get bigger paychecks than managers whom are 3-4 layers of promotion above them. This pattern continues right until you hit the VP/CEO level, at which point the pay becomes extravagant.
As an added bit of extra capitalist irony, the bus that brings employee's into the park also drives past Mr. Kinzel's 3.5 million dollar mansion that sits on the peninsula right next to the point.
Pile of shit 2: Working conditions.
Working conditions at Cedar Point vary greatly depending upon which department you are in, and sometimes between work locations. Rides is a good example. A ride such as Raptor really isn't too bad to work at, although there is only a single position at which you may sit for a period (controls) you are sheltered from the sun/rain, and at an elevated position where there is a nice breeze most days. Kiddie Kingdom on the other hand is an experience most people find to be hellish,(which is why it usually staffed by the foreigners with the weakest English skills, or people who have screwed up and are being given a last chance to keep their job) At Kiddie Kingdom there is no shelter from the rain or the sun, and in Ohio Summers you get plenty of both. You must remain standing at all times (Park Policy is that you can NEVER be seen sitting by a guest) and if there is no one at your ride you must clean. It doesn't matter whether it needs to be done or not, you must remain constantly in motion and cleaning. You are not permitted to talk to your nearby co-workers. (This is why if you go there you will see some very depressed looking people with a rag in one hand walking in a slow circle cleaning the top rung of the divider bars for their ride) Even worse though is the music. Its collection of "kids music" on a 90 minute loop, some of the songs playing back to back, literally the exact same song twice in a row. Although there are some tolerable songs like "You are a Pirate", most of them are things like kids bop versions of Achy Breaky heart or Macarena. Even worse than that is the buzzers. Many of the kiddie rides have little buzzers that simulate horn noises. Most of the kids will simply hold them down for the entire ride, creating a cacophony of unpleasantness that has been known to cause eye twitching in audio sensitive people. At least the kids themselves aren't usually too bad, the parents are another matter. Its especially distressing for the foreigners when they are dealing with an irate overprotective mother whom is freaking out about something, since they generally have no understanding of American Bourgeois, or for lack of a better term, "privileged white folk", compounded by their weak English skills.
Other departments are known for being terrible no matter what work location you get. The biggest offender is accommodations. Their turnover rate is spectacularly high, and for good reason. 14+ hour shifts are common, and 18 hour shifts not unheard of. Because Cedar Points attitude is that you will work exactly as much or as little as they need you, you can wind up nearly starving if the hotels are low on counts for a couple weeks, followed suddenly by 18 hour shifts and no days off for a month at a time. This causes people who can afford to quit (American's primarily) to leave, meaning the remaining crew has to take up the slack. This often creates a feedback loop that is nearly impossible to break out of, and it happens every year. The stereotype for room cleaners is exhausted looking Asian and Russian women, because those are the foreigners whom are least able to renege on their contract. (I remember one poor girl from an Eastern Bloc country who broke down in tears when her parents told her they would pay for her to come home right away, despite the fact that it would put the family in a bit of a hardship. But she was so miserable she couldn't even contemplate working there anymore, and she was overjoyed that her parents were willing to rescue her from America. Let that sink in for a moment.)
Breaks are another issue at Cedar Point. The standard for most departments is a 1 hour break (or two thirty minute breaks) for an O-C. (Open to Close shift) An O-C varies between departments, but typically runs from around 8:30 am to 11:30 pm, and in some cases longer. Sweeps for example arrive two hours before the park opens and leave two hours after it closes. On days where the park closes at 10:00pm, this translates into a shift of 8:00am to 12:00am. Despite the length of this day, they still get the same amount of breaks. In many locations you cannot simply use the bathroom whenever you want, you may only do so on your breaks. Breaks are also your only chance to refill your water bottle without making a special request. When employee numbers get low, breaks get cut. Towards the end of a season, I've seen people worked for 20 hours with a single 45 minute break. Ride operators at least are given an extra half hours worth of breaks in consideration of working in a safety related position, and the park does have a policy of not working ride operators past 80 hours a week. During the early or later parts of the season its not unheard of for major rides to have to be shut down because the entire crew has hit 80 hours.
Steaming Pile of shit 3: The exploitation of Foreigners.
Every year at Cedar Point (and many other parks) a large contingent of foreign workers are employed. It would be unfair to say that all of these workers are abused in some way, however, when they arrive they find themselves in a completely imbalanced situation and they are frequent targets of exploitation. These workers come here on a treaty (whose name escapes me and Google isn't helping much either) that allows to a visa under some sort of work exchange program. They are recruited in their home countries by one of several companies who handle this sort of thing. They pay a fee to the company (whom also gets a fee from Cedar Point), sign a contract agreeing to work for Cedar Point for a specified period (breaking this contract carries a heavy financial penalty), and purchase their plane ticket. Some pre-purchase their plane ticket home, most do not. Its very important to note that many of them are counting on their earnings in order to be able to get back home. Very often they have been misled as to how much money they will make. (I don't know if the company that recruited them tells them or just strongly implies this, but I have heard from dozens of them that they thought the minimum wage in America was around $15-$20 per hour.)
Most of them come from some sort of middle class background (relative to their country of origin) and are studying a degree (business is the most common) that makes use of knowing the English language. They come to America expecting to be able to earn what is for them a fabulous amount of money while practicing their English and experiencing American culture. Most of the time what they get is something else entirely.
First off, Cedar Point has these people by the balls. Not only are they living in a foreign land with a culture that is often bizarre too them, they are running smack into brutal American Capitalism. In the first place their wages are lower (I think
To be fair the majority do earn enough and do manage to sneak in a couple weeks touring the country before they go home, but during their time at Cedar Point they are worked liked machines and held up as the standard we should all be at. (I remember a manager of one of the kitchens screaming at a cook who wasn't producing fast enough that if he didn't shape up he was "gonna get one of them Asian's in here to do your job. He'll produce twice as much and thank me for it.") They often take the cheapest housing available to them and live in little cloisters by ethnicity. They often don't get near as much exposure to English as they would like, as they are often grouped together at work and live together in company housing. Many of them also wind up with a weird perspective of America. They often have bought into "American Exceptionalism" long before they get here and develop a weird sort of Stockholme syndrome shortly after they arrive. I remember one girl in particular (A very pretty dark haired girl from an Eastern Bloc country) whom I saw had a bandage on her left arm from her fingertips to almost her elbow. When I asked her about it she said she had slipped and fallen and her arm had plunged into the Elephant Ear machine. She then told me with pride how she had finished out her workday after getting it bandaged up. (Her arm was covered in mild second degree burns) When I asked her why she had done this, she told me it was "Because that's how American's work. There must be a reason why America is so rich, I think now after being here its maybe everyone works so hard." I later learned she wasn't the only person to have slipped and fallen into the Elephant Ear machine, merely one of the most injured. Apparently one of her other coworkers (A black girl from Detroit) had the week before done the same thing and refused to go to first aid until the blisters on her arm had started breaking. This Eastern Bloc girl had learned from that example well.
It should be noted that much of what a foreign worker experiences at Cedar Point depends on what job they are assigned. They do not fidn out what they will be doing until they get here, and they are doled out to the various departments on an as needed basis. In general, the ones with good English skills are put in positions where they will interact with guests and thusly get treated a bit better. The ones with poor English skills often wind up cooking or cleaning rooms, and this is where some of the nightmarish abuse occurs. (I remember once walking into the back breakroom of one of the hotels. There was a sign posted there that said "There are no more days off for anyone until further notice, so DO NOT ASK." Everyone there was working 18 hour shifts, with a lucky handful per day getting 12 hours shifts.) The foreign workers though are always treated as machines no matter where they are. If there is anyone who is going to get screwed over, its the foreigner on your crew that will get it first. Someone's gotta work an extra 4 hours tonight? Its gonna be the foreigner. The company screwed up and over hired? The foreigners get their hours cut first. (They are guaranteed at least 40 by the contract they sign when they come over but most do not know this or do not know how to get it enforced. I've known a few who were getting only around 15 hours a week and come home ticket time were contemplating prostitution.) They never complain anywhere near where the company can hear, but many of them wind up dissatisfied/disillusioned.
There is one particular incident of this that stands out in my mind. During the 2008 season Cedar Point had massively over hired and was in the middle of the worst slump in attendance since like 1986. Departments were struggling to spread the scant hours around as much as possible to keep everyone going, many people were only getting around 25 hours a week and turnover was getting pretty bad. The foreigners were, unfortunately, at the bottom of the list for getting hours simply because they wouldn't simply leave. Usually, there are always a few foreigners begging for extra hours and moonlighting doing night trash or sweeping or something like that. This time however, there was nothing extra to give them and there were literally roaming groups that would make rounds between every department asking for extra hours every day. I was sitting in a meeting of department heads (There was a VP in attendance as well) and the issue of the foreigners begging for more hours came up. One of the managers instructed all her department heads "When you get a foreigner asking for extra hours, give them an extra hours form, have them fill it out, and as soon as they walk away just throw it out." When asked by one of her subordinates if they shouldn't at least tell them there were no more hours she said "No, that only causes problems for HR. When they ask HR what to do about their limited hours, HR tells them to ask us. If we tell them there are no more hours than CP can be found in violation of the contract. This way we get much fewer problems for everyone." (On a personal note, this story in particular and the fact that I never called this woman out for this has stuck in my craw ever since)
Another thing the Foreigners often have a difficult time adjusting too is our Police culture. In most of the rest of the world (Even Turkey or the Eastern Bloc) Police treat you with respect and speak to you politely. At Cedar Point the police are demigods with the right to enter your home and conduct a search at whim, and they will shout at you (particularly the foreigners) for the smallest of infractions. I have seen police scream at Foreigners for bouncing a basketball in the parking lot (not allowed), I have seen several police go and break up a pick up game of soccer that some Latin American's had formed. The sudden anger and absolute authority of the Police is something that many, many foreigners have a hard time understanding and are often caught completely off gaurd by it. They also don't understand how one group of Police can be okay with something and another group comes down on them like a ton of bricks. The idea that there can be such inconsistency in enforcement, or that once one police officer says something it becomes law despite precedent, is really hard for many of them to grasp.
Steaming Pile of shit The Fourth: Housing
Cedar Point is located in Sandusky Ohio, a fairly rural area of the country with no nearby population centers to speak of. Requiring a seasonal workforce of around 3000+, Cedar Point is therefore forced to recruit from well outside its local boundaries. These migrant workers require housing, so Cedar Point offers Company housing to its employee's. The housing has never been great,but it was pretty cheap. Years ago the attitude amongst employee's was "You get what you pay for". Then starting three years ago the board made a conscious decision to turn the employee housing into a profit generator, and the housing went from pretty drat cheap to debate-ably cheaper then getting a cheap apartment/house in town. Cedar Point has also turned Employee Housing into something of a soft Police State where you have no rights and must have your company ID (papers) on you at all times. Lets get into specifics.This combined even lead one group of FUNraisers (more on those later) to nickname the commons "Auschwitz".
There are 3 Main areas where employee's live.
1.) "The Commons": This is where the majority of employee's live, and also where the employee convenience store and rec center is located. The commons is generally regarded as a dangerous/bad place by those who live in the other area's.
2.) "Bayside": Two converted apartment buildings and a small cloister of buildings where some of the execs live. These are generally regarded as the ideal places to live, but the rules are much more strictly enforced.
3.) Cedars/Golds Dorm: Technically two separate buildings but they are close to each other and on point. Very popular with the foreigners as they are the cheapest housing available. They are also very old, generally run down, and do not permit air conditioning. Cedars does not have locking doors, so theft is especially rampant. Golds is Female only and where most of the female foreigners live. (I'll be honest, its like a promised land of exotic women.)
Like all Cedar Point Employee housing the commons has tight security. There is a single entrance/exit point with a guard booth, and you are required to get your badge scanned to go in. If you for some reason do not have your badge on you, you cannot get in. The only way around this is if your Supervisor can be reached at their work number to confirm you are still an employee. If its late at night, too bad, you spend the night either outside or you pay 100 bucks for a room at one of the hotels. This is strictly enforced now.
The entire commons area is ringed by a 6 foot Tall barbed wire fence. There are security cameras and roaming patrols of police. Every year there are multiple rapes, stabbings, and even the odd shooting. Theft is extremely common, as are burglaries. Drugs at least, are relatively rare but still obtainable.
There are two types of living quarters available in The Commons. The first, and the one that by far the majority of employee's live in, are what are called Dorm-rooms. A Dorm-room is a single, 10x18ish room. It has two bunkbeds, 3 lockers, 2 Dressers, 1 desk, 1 chair, 1 TV (If your lucky) and an air conditioner. There are communal restrooms/showers on each floor. Four people will be assigned into each Dorm-Room, and its kind of a crapshoot who you get and if they have a schedule compatible with yours. While it is possible to switch rooms with someone, you have to get approval first and it usually takes a few days. (Approval is not always granted though and housing maintains that they are not obligated to tell you why) This is a popular choice for housing because it is the *ONLY* one where you can have an air conditioner in your bedroom. All other housing options either disallow air conditioners outright or only allow them in small communal areas and not in the bedroom's. The cost for this is $45 dollars per week, per person. It works out to $720 per month for a SINGLE ROOM, or about $4 per month per square foot. (I would be interested in what low end apartments go for in major cities on a square foot basis, as I suspect its comparable.) This video here should give you a pretty good idea of what a dorm-room is like. Note to the company spooks trying to track my identity down, I don't know who any of the people in this video are, so don't blame them if they are still employed at CP.
Living in commons dorms is not particularly easy. The space you see in that video is what you get. You are not permitted any devices that can be used to cook food, as they are a fire hazard. (In fact, nearly everything has been ruled a fire hazard, including plug in air fresheners) Their are communal microwaves on the first floor of each buildings, and that is what you may use. Hotplates, microwaves, and even electric tea kettles are all contraband, and being caught in possession of them can mean confiscation/termination, it can even lead to your roommates getting punished for not turning you in. You are permitted a small fridge however. So your choices for eating are generally either eating out(Sandusky is an expensive town because it is a resort town, ordering delivery, peanut butter/Raman, or buying something from the Employee Store. The prices at the Employee Store are quite elevated, despite it being a pretty busy store. There is also a Subway inside the Employee Rec Center, however the prices are again elevated and even the $5 Footlongs deal is not offered. This makes it a somewhat complicated affair to feed yourself without going spending a great deal of money.
The other main living option at The Commons are what are called apartments. The apartments are all identical. Five Bedrooms joined by a single hallway leading into a communal living room area. The communal living room area has 1 couch,1 cushioned chair, a small table, a single large fridge, an ancient television, a sink, a 4 burner stovetop(no oven), and an air conditioner. The five bedrooms hold 18 people collectively and are each smaller than a dorm-room. There are also two bathrooms to be shared amongst 18 people, and the cleaning of them is left entirely up to the rooms occupants. This naturally, leads to a constant source of conflict. This video shows the inside of the common area of an Apartment. (Again, I do not know any of the people in this video) The cost for an Apartment is I believe $38 dollars per person, per week. These are popular with some people because they are slightly cheaper, and with the ability to lock your bedroom door, it is a bit easier to prevent theft. Also, you can cook here, and if you trust everybody enough, actually store your food in the big fridge. The foreigners from Asia in particular are known for bunching up in one of these. The bedrooms also offer a bit of personal space for getting a game system or something of that nature.
Bayside is by far, BY FAR, the preferred living quarters in Cedar Point. Getting into a Bayside apartment is something that is often viewed as a privilege that must be earned. There are two buildings. The 700 and the 800 building. The 800 building is nicer, and almost like a legitimate tiny apartment. The 700 building however is still fantastic by Cedar Point standards. Each apartment hold 5-8 people in either 2 or 3 bedrooms, has its own private bathroom and a kitchenette. (WITH AN OVEN!This is a big deal) The living room is also considerably more spacious than the ones in a Commons apartment. Competition for spots at Bayside is pretty fierce, and are generally reserved for either team leaders/middle managers or their pet employee's. A few do get in if they are early enough in the season and in the right/place time though. Cost is $29 per week. (Sorry, couldn't find a video for this one) The 800 building is even nicer with larger rooms and newer furniture/carpet, but most of it is pre-served for special employee's whom simply cannot be a part of the regular population (The Police, Performers for the Ice Show, etc.) There are a few downsides to Bayside though. If you want air conditioning, it is only allowed in the living room, and you must buy the air conditioner yourself. Everyone's rent goes up slightly to cover the extra electricity used, and you have to pay the carpenters to install it. Also, the rules tend to be much more strictly enforced (Except for the cops, cuz those guys can't be punished and they know it. Its not uncommon to see an officer wheeling a Keg into the building) There are also tons of little irritating rules, like only being allowed a single 6 pack of beer, (no wine or other types of liquor permitted, only beer) and if one of your roommates is underage and steals your beer then you can be charged with providing to a minor, even if you are not home at the time.
I don't know too much about these, having only visited them occasionally, but they are much like the Commons apartments, only much much crappier. They are the cheapest of the cheap living accommodations. (around $17-$20 per week) There is no air conditioning, there are no locks on the doors, all the furniture/carpet is old and beaten, and both places have an air of old Soviet Bloc housing. The also do not have any common areas, pretty much only tiny bedrooms and communal showers/bathrooms. (This was told to me by multiple people who grew up in Eastern Bloc countries) These are located right on the point though and represent a very easy way to get to/from work, cutting the hassle of the obscene traffic or the employee bus at the end of the day. These are very, very popular with the foreigners, or the extremely cheap. Eating here is done primarily at the employee cafe, as its right within walking distance and the only other food available is at the Company restaurants, and you do not get any sort of discount there. (And the prices are beyond retarded, 3.75 for a coke, 15 dollars for a hamburger.)
I wasn't able to find a video of these either.
I thought since some of my personal anecdotes have been pretty popular I would make a post of nothing but stories. These are all things I witnessed firsthand. (As I'm typing these it really does feel a bit like opening a vein, I had forgotten how much some of these pissed me off.)
Cedar Points culture is such that anyone with a medical issue is automatically considered to be either lazy or a faker just trying to get out of a shift. There is a first aid station for guests and employee's, but going there is kind of chancy as an employee (you need your supervisors permission, sometimes in writing to visit them during your shift) They will automatically assume you are lying and most of the time offer you cough drops and a cup of water. If they are feeling generous they might let you lie down for 20 minutes. There is also a "doctors office" (I literally gagged in real life saying that).
I have tried to describe this doctors office for twenty minutes now and I get angry every time. Management talks it up it as something great for the employee's, a real benefit. Evidence of how much they care and how good you have it. Let me just give you the cold facts. It is a two room affair located inside the Cedars building. It generally has a 3-4 day waiting list, so for anything like a flu/cold your generally already over it by the time you can get in.
The doctor can give you painkillers and do some mild prescriptions, but that's about it. For anything more than that you will be referred to one of the local medical clinics. And this is the real pisser.
All of the local medical clinics have a special policy for Cedar Point Employee's. For anything non life threatening you must pay them $100 up front to be seen You read that right. Poor, sick employee's who can't work and don't know whats wrong with them need to pay cash up front in order to be seen by a real doctor. After that they must pay up front for treatment unless the Hospital expects it to be covered by Cedar Point for some reason. This has created many situations in which Employee's know something is really wrong with them but they don't have the money to get treated, so they just struggle through as best they can until they collapse.
Assorted First Aid Horror Stories
First Aid had a literally official policy of being suspect of any Employee who came in with a complaint. While it is true that they do get quite a few people faking an illness to either get out of a shift or go home early, very often those with legitimate problems get treated like liars. Only the very obviously ill or bleeding get taken seriously. First Aid also has a policy that an injury or illness has to be pretty significant in order to be sent home. Pain isn't viewed as a legitimate reason not to work, only risk of further significant injury.
Once while having a deep cut bandaged up in First Aid one of the nurses noticed the blisters on my feet and asked if they hurt. I told her they did a bit, but I was used to it and didn't need any help. She told me "That's good your so used to walking. I had a girl in here yesterday who this is her first real job. She's never walked or stood so much and after two days the poor thing had a 4 inch blister on her heel. I felt terrible but I couldn't send her home. The blister wasn't going to cause her anything but pain so all I could do was give her some Aspirin and tell her to suck it up."
A member of the Maverick crew started work one day complying of being exhausted and nauseated. Now, because of the way the train sits in the station checking Harnesses on Maverick is actually a pretty physical process. You have to move very quickly, and perform a bowing action (essentially bowing down nearly far enough to touch your toes) several times per train. It was an extremely hot and humid day. Three hours into his shift this crew member rushes to the side of the station and vomits. He is sent to First Aid, although begrudgingly because they had to stop breaks in order to do it. First aid gives a 10 minute break, two cups of water, 2 cough drops, has him walk across the park to wardrobe to get a fresh shirt, and then send him right back into position.
Another ride operator suffered a full grand mal seizure while in position. First aid gave her a 40 minute break, and then sent her back into position with the caveat that she had to sit for the rest of the day. She was sent to the entrance where she finished out her shift.
Blaming the victim
Heat and rain aren't the only environmental enemies at Cedar Point. Early or late in the season Ohio's weather can be very chaotic and Cold and wind can be a big problem, and the temperature can drop unexpectedly. There was a ride operator working at one the major rides that sits right on the shore. Despite being pretty early in the season the morning had started off quite warm so he was in his regular uniform. About 2 hours into his shift though a weather front blew in and the temperature dropped rapidly as the wind really kicked up. By chance this happened just as this crew member rotated into a position that focused the wind into a natural wind tunnel. He was being blasted with cold air and was unable to get to his locker to get his warmer clothing, and the TL refused to shut the ride down or delay a launch in order to allow him to do so. So he stood and shivered for a half hour until he was very visibly violently shivering. The TL in this case unfortunately had not been trained to recognize signs of hypothermia or shock, so did not think the crew member was in any real distress. After a half hour the shivering ride operator was rotated into the control booth which was at least sheltered from the wind. However, after five minutes in the booth he made an "operational" (A mistake that delays the launch of a train) and was kicked out of the booth and back into the wind. 5 minutes later he stepped into the booth, blacked out and proceeded to have a seizure. He was ambulanced off to First Aid, where he was monitored for a few hours. The end result was that he was written up and given a "step" of counseling (4 steps is termination) as well as reassigned to a different ride. Now you might be wondering how you can write someone up for making a procedural error when they are hypothermic and only minutes away from blacking out. Well, the justification was that since he hadn't eaten in two days, (He was broke and hadn't received his first check yet) he had failed to maintain his health and that his medical distress was really his fault. If he had eaten then the cold wouldn't have caused him nearly the problems.
My Foot hurts
An employee who worked at one of the stores had worn his current pair of shoes down, so he went to Wardrobe and purchased a new pair of shoes from the Company. This new pair of shoes had a small defect in the heel and a sliver of plastic was poking through. But this employee decided to just bear with it and keep working. They were terribly short staffed at this point, and this Employee was working 16 hour days. His life was basically work/collapse work/collapse. His foot begins to hurt, but for several days the Employee does his best to ignore it.
Around the third day of this foot pain the Employee is caught by a manager leaning against a desk. (Store employee's are not permitted to sit, and are not permitted to lean in any place where a guest might see them.) Despite the fact that the store was empty of guests at the time, he manager writes this Employee up and gives him a step. The employee states that he was only leaning because his foot was causing him so much pain. the manager then tells the Employee "Well then go to first aid and get checked out so they can send your right back here because its nothing you crybaby." The employee goes to First Aid. When they pull his shoe off the sweet smell of rotting flesh fills the room. His foot was necrotic.
The immediately send the employee over to the doctors office, whom cleans the wound, prescribes some serious antibiotics, and basically freaks out. (He almsot had to wear a mask to treat the wound) The Doctor writes a note stating that either the Employ is off the schedule for 7 days, or he can only work 8 hour shifts, must be permitted to sit the entire time, and must keep his foot elevated the entire time. He must also see first aid to have the dressing changed three items per day, whether he is working or not. The Employee complies and leaves a note with his department and with the safety department and heads home. He is told by a junior night manager not to come in the next morning.
The next day the senior manage is seriously upset. She calls the Employee demanding he come in and work his scheduled 16 hour shift. He refuses, and states he has a note. The manager claims she never got the note and demands he come in. He refuses and tells her to take it up with safety. She calls safety and states that her department never received any note. Safety faxes her over a copy. She states that her departments position is that the employee is still fit to work his regular shift. This starts of an escalating chain of phone calls until the Doctor catches wind of it. The Doctor personally visits this manager and proceeds to lose his poo poo at her publicly. The issue is dropped, but the employee is ultimately blacklisted over the affair.
I just feel weak all the time
There was an acquaintance of mine who worked as a cook at one of the higher end restaurants. She was a pretty typical party girl. Shortly into her third year she started to feel weak pretty constantly. The CP Doctor told her to go to one of the medical clinics in town, but this was also during a famine period of hours, so she really didn't have the money. She tried to muddle through it as best as she could. For a while she was the first to be sent home, and she more or less made just enough to feed herself and pay her rent. As the months drug on she had good days and bad days. Sometimes she would even have a good week, only to overdo it and wind up nearly bedridden again. Eventually, as the season drug on they got busy again but she was simply unable to keep up. Her co-workers all suspected her of faking. This girl truly felt horrible guilt that she couldn't keep pace with her Co-workers and used to say things like "When I'm better I"ll be able to work hard and make this up to you" when her co-workers were forced to pick up her slack. "When I'm better" became something of a mantra for her, and I heard her say it often. Despite her intentions, She was still the first to be sent home, which caused deep resentment amongst her co-workers. Several times she collapsed at her station, but she would always come back and finish her shift after a 20 minute stint of water and painkillers at First Aid. Eventually the season ended and she went home. But she still didn't get better. Her family pretty quickly took her to see a doctor. She was diagnosed with Leukemia.
But I paid my bills
Cedar Point does in fact offer a weak medical plan. It is overpriced for the very limited coverage you do get, and if you read the fine print there are many ways that you could be denied. But the plan is there, and some do take advantage of it.
There was an employee's who was one of the few year round employee's who had taken the medical plan. He developed a herniated disc and felt pretty grateful that he had the foresight to get the medical insurance. That is until he actually tried to get the insurance plan to pay out. The insurance company had no record of receiving any payments for his policy. It came out in court that on multiple occasions Cedar Point had registered Employee's for this medical plan, taken the payments out of their checks, and then forgotten to actually pay the insurance company. The stink over this is still ongoing.