DENVER – Union officials in Colorado say a Qwest supervisor tried to cut down on lengthy bathroom breaks by telling workmen to use disposable urinal bags in the field.
The manager distributed the bags to 25 male field technicians, telling them not to waste time leaving a job site to search for a public bathroom, the Rocky Mountain News reported Thursday.
"We deal with a lot of silliness in corporate America, but you've got to admit, it takes the freakin' cake," Reed Roberts, an administrative director at the Communications Workers of America District 7, told the newspaper.
Roberts did not return a message left by The Associated Press.
Qwest spokeswoman Jennifer Barton said, "There's no policy whatsoever" requiring field technicians to use the bags.
"They are there for convenience, and they are there because employees asked for them," she said.
The union has not filed a grievance, Barton said, and she could not discuss the details of the allegations from the communications company's field worker in the sparsely populated area near Montrose.
Roberts said he had complained to Qwest's corporate labor relations department. He said the company has made an issue of the amount of time wasted by workers returning to the garage or central office for bathroom breaks.
But he said it appears this manager "took it upon himself to cut down on the time technicians spend to go to the bathroom."
Neither Roberts nor Barton gave the name of the supervisor involved.
Qwest is the largest provider of telephone service in Arizona.
Qwest and other companies have for years offered portable urinal bags to workers who could find themselves in the field far from a bathroom.
The bag's manufacturer, American Innotek, said it provides the bags to various industrial companies, including electric utilities, municipal public works and telephone companies.
Ryan Hiott, a regional director for Innotek, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency ordered 2.5 million bags after Hurricane Katrina.