Like at least a few others i'm aware of, i seem to be neglecting LJ more and more in favor of facebook. This, however does have a couple advantages: One, easier to post longer entries. Two, less blur between friends online and off.
Specifically? It's not always 100% comfortable to post my seething anger and disgust with state government when a handful of said government leadership are friends. I doubt they pay much attention to anything i say, but you know...it's just easier not having to worry.
To provide advance warning, i write this mostly to get a few things off my chest.
1 - Work: Short and sweet? My boss is something between difficult and outright fucking impossible. As far as i can see, however, nothing's going to be done about that...So i continue to enjoy the results. I was written up in january for what basically amounted to a mix of my making mistakes due to workload and his looking for a reason to do it. 3 weeks later, it happened again. Matter of fact, the day of the 1st "meeting" with him, HR and my rep, i had to leave early...he followed it up by a)discussing my health with my rep and b) going through my desk to see what else he could find to use against me. Having found what he and management felt was apparently enough, we ended up back in meeting #2. In said meeting, we agreed work would be redistributed to allow for my time out of the office due to contract bargaining. Having not heard any feedback since, i presumed all was going well. My rep and someone from the union met with HR and management today about said two reprimands and the effort to get one dropped...and what do we find out? Well, management "didn't want to stress me out during bargaining", so their intention was to wait til i was done, then write me up again and suspend me for three days. Long story (sort of) short, we agreed to drop said suspension in exchange for my not formally grieving it, and the plan is that i a) work more with a different immediate supervisor, and b) have a chat with the deputy commmissioner of our department about the possibility of finding a place elsewhere in the department. Well...that's what i plan to make the chat about.
To be clear: i worked for 4 years in my old spot with no issues. no discipline, nothing. Suddenly, however, i'm incompetent. I've faced some serious self-doubt over this, but you know...i'm willing to cop to my mistakes, but they ain't all mine. Perhaps the contract bargaining has added a layer of stress, but so has working for someone who is clearly and blatantly not out to work with people he doesn't like.
Which brings me to...
2- bargaining: Our contract expires July 1. We've been meeting as a team as well as across the table from the state since november. Somewhere in the area of probably 25-30 meetings thus far, almost all of those being all-day events. We started out with a total of almost 300 proposals from our members, but pared that down to 52 by the time the deadline for giving them to the other side came around on 5/1. The state, for their part, asked for or proposed effectively nothing. We all wondered why...then found out on the first of may.
On may first, the governor announced his big plan to cover the $570m additional budget shortfall. His big plan was to implement 24 day over the next 2 fiscal years where all state offices would be closed and we as employees would be forced to take unpaid days off. This was bounced back, forth and back as an idea for weeks, and we ended up with 20 unpaid days. Plus the small bit of longevity pay for people with at least 20 years was suspended. Plus the contractual merit increases, the steps on the salary scale(about 4%/yr) are frozen for 2 years. Plus state employees now pay a percentage of our individual health insurance premiums. (Note on that: Republican legislators admitted this was not for cost savings, but simply because they wanted us to end up having to pay a percentage. In short...it was done out of spite. And the democrats, many of whom we endorsed? Went along.)
So pay raises, longevity pay, unpaid days, all things we've always negotiated...were decided unilaterally by the legislature and passed as statue as part of the state budget.
Of course, we're still at the bargaining table. Having had all this taken out from under our feet, the process subverted, we still have to come to an agreement and convince ourselves and our members it's good and deserving of our support. So, think back..we've got our 52. they've got a handful of very basic "housekeeping" issues and ended up adding 3 or 4 on established committees they want to kill. Between 5/1 and today, they've said no to probably 40-45 of our 52. Not we'll see, not we'll try to come to terms...Just No. We are frustrated, but press on. Today, however, for the first time, we said no, we're not interested to 3 or 4 of theirs.
Immediately afterward, the chief negotiator for the state informed leadership on our side that they felt disrespected, that we weren't doing enough to come to an agreement and that they were done, that we would need to bring in a mediator.
Now, the state's chief has made it no secret: she wants this ratified and done by 7/1. For that to happen, her goal was/is to have an agreement between both sides on a contract by the end of this week. After their little tantrum today, we talked about that possibility. Do we just accept that there's no good answer and sign off? try for one or two compromises and wrap it up this week? Getting this done by the contract expiration, 7/1, has always been the goal.
However...Short and sweet, the state has fucked us over collectively. new employees depending on that annual step up on the merit scale are SOL for 2 years. long-term employees at the top of the scale are out of luck for longevity pay. Everyone knows they're stuck paying for a part of healthcare and having to take 20 days off without any pay. Why the hell would we feel any motivation to cooperate with them now? What's the threat if we don't have a contract? We've got nothing left to lose..If we're going to get beaten down on this, why not at least fight them on it til the end and take said beating knowing we fought it out?
Well, that's basically our side's decision. We will continue to work toward a deal, but also start scheduling a mediator.
As a member of the bargaining team, of this union, i say good. Let's go down fighting.
As an individual, I am feeling somewhat less steadfast.
I feel like seemingly every day at work is stressful or a challenge, like bargaining is a never-ending process that will either bring an absolutely wretched ending or exhaust me completely, both mentally and physically. Maybe both. I'm taking piss poor care of myself, feeling much worse for wear as a result, and often feel like a cursory element at best in the lives of my family. I think that there are people, especially within the union, that do have this image of me as someone who's dedicated, capable, doing all these things and etc...but it all feels like a front, and one i can just barely maintain on a daily basis. I don't feel capable and dedicated. I feel like i'm doing this out of some perverse sense of loyalty and dedication, and that i really can't stop. One, if i do, things either won't get done or will be screwed up by someone else. Two, if i did..what else is there? Not to say jen and colleen are not my #1 priority push come to shove...just that this is a lot of what i am, and i often think of it as sort of like the filler holding the rest of me together. If i'm not planning for board meetings or discussing strategy or bargaining or at headquarters, i cannot help but think sometimes that it'd come to me with much more clarity how i'm slowly disintegrating in pretty much every sense of the word.
Not sure it even really sums it up to say i'm tired. I'd say i'm at the end of my rope...but i can't. work goes on. Bargaining has no end in sight. I can't be, so i won't be.