November 17th, 2010

Keep Walking

Take This Job And Shove It

As of noon today, I am once again unemployed. Why? Because I wasn't happy with being taken advantage of and I stood up for myself and demanded either better days/hours to work or more pay.

As most of you all know, I've been working Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and every other Wednesday from 8PM to 8AM. Yes, that is every weekend -- all year long. What you might not know is that I've been paid hourly for this position and they have refused to pay overtime, holiday pay (when you work a federally observed holiday), sick time or even vacation. You pretty much earn the same rate no matter how much you work or when you work.

I've been in negotiations to change this so it's more fair.

Firstly with trying to get a staggered schedule (since this is a 24x7 operation, someone is always working). With a staggered schedule, during week 1, person 1 would work WED/THURS, and week 2 would work MON, TUE, FRI, SAT, SUN. That would be 24 hours (week 1) + 60 hours (week 2) for a total of 84 hours every 2 weeks. Yes, the exact same number of hours worked -- but everyone would get every other weekend off. I suggested it to our team lead, pointing out how unfair the current schedule was to those stuck with the weekend work. He decided to put it up for a vote among the team members. Now you know anyone not currently working weekends wouldn't vote for it, and since there were only two people working weekend nights (Dave and me) and more people working weekdays, the vote didn't pass. (Big surprise!!) No minority rights were ever granted with a majority vote -- and Dave and I were a minority of two.

Next, I went to my HR manager and said -- look, here's the situation (work/life imbalance, working every weekend, no holiday pay, working alone on holidays, no overtime, etc.) all I'm asking is that if you want me to work every weekend in the year that I am compensated better than I currently am. I asked for a 50% raise, which I felt was fair -- considering that when I came into this position, I was only told I might be working some unusual hours. I was told that there could be no discussion of pay increases until my 12 month mark. (Knowing how IBM works, and already feeling MIMs in India shadowing us, I know that six more months down the road, I wouldn't have a job with them.)

Finally, push came to shove -- I said that if they were not willing to pay any more that my HR manager needed to apply more pressure to my IBM manager to force a fair schedule for our team, or transfer me to a different team that already had staggered weeks. I pointed out that they scheduled me to work alone 12-hour shifts without breaks on Thanksgiving Eve, Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, the day after Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. When I put this pressure on my HR manager, my IBM manager simply cancelled my contract.

On one hand, I'm very happy this happened. I was getting physically ill from trying to keep this schedule -- plus, I had no work/life balance and was unable to socialize with friends or do anything with anyone (except for Mondays and Tuesdays!!) On the other hand, I'm disappointed that rather than trying to come to an agreement, they simply got rid of me. I'm sure some sucker with no self-esteem will replace me.

I've had over 75 job seekers e-mail me the past month -- and I've already done some interviewing, so with any luck, I'll be back in the work force quickly. If not, I've already applied for UB and am prepared for the long haul once again.

It will be nice to not have to work overnight anymore (well, at least for now.)

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