Me, Myself, and the Voices in My Head

A place to ramble and maybe make some sense about a thing or two.

Archive for the tag “nimble organization”

Still banging my head against the wall

I was hopeful a few days ago when I received a response from one of my elected officials regarding my concerns about why I wasn’t reappointed to my old job.  They sent me a nice email:

April 18, 2012

Dear [Me],

I have sent the enclosed correspondence about your situation to [Governmental Agency Acronym].  The enclosed copy is for your files.

If you have any new, relevant information, please send it to:

Name and address of possibly underpaid staff member
Office of Desperate to be Re-elected Official
Mailing Address to “Local” Office

Or

Fax number that no one uses anymore because of e-mail and the Internet

Please be assured that we are continuing to work on this matter and will contact you as soon as we receive a response.  If you have received this message by email, it is not possible to reply by email.  Please contact my office by phone, fax, mail or online via webform on our website at webaddress.PLEASE-vote-for-me.gov.

Again, thank you for contacting me.  Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance to you on this or any other issue.

Sincerely

Quite odd that if they can send me an email that I can’t send another in return.  I thought that was how email worked.  All these years using the Internet and somehow I missed that.

Anyway, I opened the “enclosed correspondence” to see what it had.  Here’s what I found:

Dear Sir or Madam,

The purpose of this correspondence is to inquire about non-reappointment of [Me, but with my name in all capital letters].

[Me] contacted [Desperate to be Re-Elected Official] out of concern for this case. Her current mailing address is [none of your business].

Her email address is [also none of your business].

Her date of birth is [REALLY none of your business]. I have attached a signed Privacy Act Release Form for this case. (NOTE: The Privacy Act Release Form had all that info on it, so why waste time in a “letter” repeating it?)

According to [Me], she was recently not reappointed to her [old job title] position after almost 8 years of work without personnel or performance issues.  As she has not received an answer from [Governmental Agency Acronym] regarding the specific reason, she believes that it is due to the fact that she has obtained a certified service dog to assist her.  I have attached the email she forwarded to our office where she quotes the letter she received from [Governmental Agency Acronym], as well as her signed Privacy Release form. (NOTE: Didn’t they already say they’d attached this?  Who writes these things??)

I respectfully request that your office give each and every due consideration under the law to the request of the constituent. Please update me by email about the status of this application or the reason for this denial so that I can inform the constituent.

Best regards,

Name of possibly underpaid staff member

So, the letter was off and now all I had to do was sit-back and wait for an answer.  My attempts at getting a straight answer from supervisors (and, I thought, friends) didn’t work.  My attempts at going through the Equal Rights and Equal Employment Offices had met with little fanfare and, as of this date, still no response.  Now I was going to get somewhere!

Today, an email arrived from the political official’s address.  Inside I found:

April 20, 2012

Dear [Me],

I have received the enclosed correspondence from [Governmental Agency Acronym].  The enclosed copy is for your files.

Please feel free to contact me in the future if I can assist you with any other matters of federal concern.  If you are receiving this message by email, please note that it is not possible to reply by email.  Instead, please contact my office by phone, fax, mail or online via webform at http://www.I’m-getting-very-desperate-to-be-reelected.Give-me-some-money.gov.

Again, thank you for contacting me.  Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance to you on this or any other issue.

Sincerely

Okay, a stock response with a quick flip of the ol’ web address where donations are happily received.  But, it had only been 2 days!  I knew something was fishy.  The government never works that fast.  Not for regular taxpayers like us, anyway.

So I opened the attached “response” and here’s what I saw:

Good Morning [Possibly Underpaid Staff Member],

Thank you for your recent inquiry about [Me].  She is concerned about not being reappointed as a [old job title and acronym for it].  On behalf of the [Actual Name of Governmental Agency and Acronym], the following is what I can share at this time.

March 24, 2012, marked the end of the current appointment period for all [old job acronym].  We were asked to evaluate our current work force needs based on [Governmental Agency Acronym]’s mission. This required making some difficult decisions.  Clearly we had people who had contributed to our mission for a long time and were good employees.  However, our current and projected staffing needs meant we needed to create a more nimble organization, which required making some very hard choices.  At this time, it was determined per the Stafford Act and your Conditions of Employment, to allow [Me]’s appointment to expire.  {Me] is free to apply for an appointment within another Cadre.

Once the new [New Job Title] program (what the [old job acronym] program used to be called) is accepting applications, the non-appointed [old job acronym] (your constituent in this case) could apply.  The details of this are still being worked out, and we will keep you posted.  I hope this helps and let me know if you have any additional questions.

Best regards,

External Affairs Specialist, [Area for which I used to be employed]

Hmmm….something seems familiar.  Why, yes!  That whole second paragraph was nearly identical to what they’d sent me previously (and you can check my prior posts to verify it)!!  They didn’t even change the word “your” before “Conditions of Employment” in order to make it read correctly!  They completely avoided the reason why I was asking for clarification and simply whipped together the same old spiel they’d been given to placate those who weren’t rehired and sent it.  And the Desperate to be Re-Elected Official’s staff didn’t even bother to check that it wasn’t an actual response to my actual question before slapping the Official’s name on the email and sending it to me.

Oh, sure, it looks “better” with them saying that I can apply when the new program opens.  However, those who were reappointed also have to apply and if they’re hired, they don’t lose their accrued sick days and their pay could go up but cannot go down.  Those of us who were not reappointed have to start from scratch, regardless of how much experience we have, and lose all of the sick days we’d saved working over the years.  So, technically, someone who had just been hired prior to the “reappointment” period who was retained could be making twice what I made and have no experience but if I get rehired to my “old job” I’d have to start at the bottom of the salary tree again.  Yeah…that sounds really fair.

I immediately went to the website of Desperate to be Re-Elected Official and left them a nice message that what I got was a whole lot of nothing that I hadn’t already sent copies of to them.  And, no, this person will not be receiving my vote in the election — even though this fiasco had nothing to do with my previous intentions to not vote for them.

Oh well….  I’m still on the hunt for answers.  Yeah, I may be just banging my head against the wall, but it’s better than sitting and wallowing in self-pity or wondering what I did wrong (which was nothing).

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Interesting information intake

Today I sat down, against the protests of some of the voices in my head, and watched a videoconference from the organization with which I used to be employed.  I wanted to hear about their new goals for the future and how bright and rosy everything was going to be now that the riff-raff hadn’t been reappointed and were no longer employed.  Of course, it was easy to listen-in since the government has promised and promised to be more transparent and the video teleconference (VTC) was held on the Internet and not behind a protective firewall.

As all of the participating VTC locations were signing-in, I did see two disabled employees on one of the cameras.  One utilizes a wheelchair and one had a service dog with him.  This gives me hope that the entire organization wasn’t looking for a way to remove those with disabilities in order to be come a “more nimble organization.”  Now I know that I can just focus on the region which determined that eight years of experience, training, and qualifications weren’t enough because I don’t know many with disabilities from there that are still employed.

Anyway, I heard a lot of interesting information in this meeting.  In a quick summary — even if you were reappointed to your job, that doesn’t mean you still have one after the end of the year.  Those who were reappointed were extended until 31 December 2012 but if they don’t remember to reapply for the new program (or just decide they don’t want to apply for it) then their job is gone.  And when they reapply, they do have some preference because they’re currently working and are already qualified for the job, but if they don’t apply early enough or aren’t really qualified enough they might not keep their job.  And there are over 3,000 vacancies that they need to fill in addition to the appointed positions that are currently filled.  So if a bunch decide they don’t want to play by the new rules or don’t qualify for their jobs, there will be even more positions available for new people — or new “old” people, like me — to take.

I found all of that very, very interesting.  For so long I’ve heard many who were reappointed gloating over the fact that they still have a job and that those of us who weren’t must have been lazy, stupid, or any number of other reasons for not being as good as they are.  Now to know that they have to reapply for their own job is making many very nervous.

The times, they are a changing.  The “good-ol’ boy” network won’t be around because the people who used to run it won’t be in charge anymore.  A lot of things that people took for granted have been identified and are being eliminated.  Streamlining the program is making a lot of people upset and some have started to say that it’s not worth sticking around through the changes.  If they’re that shallow, let them leave.  The job is to help others, not just line your pockets when you feel like being out because of someone else’s misfortune.

Will I reapply?  Sure.  I have nothing to lose.  I’ll apply for positions I want, though, rather than where they just stick people.  That’s what happened eight years ago when I first started working with them.  I wanted to do one type of job; was told I’d be much more qualified for something else that I really wanted to do; and ended up in a job that I enjoyed but really wasn’t as excited about.  Maybe this will be the way I’ll be able to find my place and use my talents in the best way possible for myself and the people served by the organization.

And, as I said, if I don’t get rehired I don’t lose anything other than a little time applying for the jobs.  I don’t have one now so I can’t lose something I don’t have.  I’m still going to advocate for equal employment rights.  It’s very near and dear to me.  And if all of my questioning and investigating keeps me from getting a job, so be it.  I’m going to do what I think is right for me for a change and not just what everyone else wants me to do.

Search for answers continues….

Ahhh….just when you thought it was safe to come back to the blog, I’m writing about trying to find out why I didn’t keep my job again.  Actually, it’s not so much about why I didn’t keep it.  It’s more about making sure that the reason for my release wasn’t something discriminatory.

Today I resent the email I’d sent last week to the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) officer as well as his supervisor, the Equal Rights Officer (ERO), asking for more information and at least a response of some sort since he had marked my previous email as read but I’d not received anything.  I also received only one response from my Congressional/Senatorial search for answers and completed the Privacy Act information sheet they requested so they could process my inquiry.  Seems odd that one who didn’t respond is up for election and lives in the same town in which I live!  So much for “hometown concern” this election season.

I did receive a response from the ERO supervisor.  I was somewhat surprised until I remembered that if the supervisor receives complaints about employees not completing their duties, they have to do something about it.  Well, they don’t “have to” I’ve discovered, but it looks better on their performance appraisals if they do.  Here is what I received:

Unfortunately, I cannot provide any specifics with regard to your statements and that received from your cadre leadership.  I can tell you that each organization now has an “established force structure” level.  Basically, that we will only be allowed a certain number of individuals in any cadre based upon the number that is established for the cadre.  My own cadre is going through this same situation.

Please let me know if you do not hear from someone by next week.

Not exactly an answer to my question but it does address the fact that all cadres are having to cut-back.  I replied with sincere thanks and asked for additional information as it is received regarding my inquiries as to why a simple reason of downsizing or a referral letter couldn’t be provided so that those who’ve lost their jobs will have an easier time finding new ones.

I then received the following item from a friend who saw it posted on a social media site:

So, [Assistant Administrator Name] graced us with his presence yesterday, and put on a dog and pony show – gist as follows.  1) DAE’s will be assigned to the Region they live in.  2) If that Region is fully staffed, and you are offered a position, it will be as a “surge” type of role.  3) An email will go out in the next 10 days, a package within the next month RE: re-application.  4) We are top-heavy with those in the C3 to E range, so there’s gonna be some payroll adjustments.  5) When asked if they are trying to get rid of people, responded “Some people are taking this the wrong way.”

“Taking this the wrong way” — are they serious?  How else is someone who has worked for years without any issues (and I’m not just talking about myself) supposed to take not being retained in their job?  Yes, it’s a temporary job.  No, you’re not supposed to rely on it for your sole source of income.  I didn’t.  I’m one of the lucky ones that has a spouse who makes enough to pay the bills if I’m not working, but I knew a lot of others that this was the best job they could find and all they had because you’re supposed to be able to deploy at a moment’s notice but no one else will hire you for a “permanent” job when you’re planning to leave any time you’re called-up.  And when looking at the differences between what new employees were making with this organization and what they could make “in the real world,” there’s no denying that people would prefer this job over a “typical” one.  I, however, did it because I was good at it (and I’m not ashamed to say so) and I knew I was making a difference.  And, yes, the money I made helped when there were unexpected medical bills (usually mine and usually caused by the stress of this type of work) or if my family wanted to visit where I was working over the holidays (which helped my morale a lot) or perhaps all of us taking a trip somewhere (which never did happen).

Still no idea how all of this will end and I’ve been looking for something else that fits my personality and work ability so that I’ll have something else to do during the day.  I don’t feel so much as if I’m beating my head against the wall with this.  It’s more like trying to figure out a mystery.  Who’s got the answers and whose buttons can I push just right that might give me some information that someone really didn’t want everyone else to know.  It’s like when I used to be a reporter/editor with the newspaper.  There’s a juicy story in this somewhere.  I’ve just got to figure out where to dig.

In for a penny, in for a pound

Yup, I’m back on the “crusade for answers” again.  Can’t help myself.  I see and hear others who feel the exact same way I do and there’s got to be something, anything that we can get as an explanation so that those of us who’ve lost our jobs (many after long employments) don’t feel like we’ve been kicked to the curb because we don’t fit the ideal of a “nimble organization.”  And I see others who’ve kept their positions basically saying “Tough crap!” to those of us unlucky enough to fit in whatever arbitrary mold was used to select the “keepers” from the “losers.”  Even one person said, “If we want to fire you, we don’t need a reason because the regulation says we can release you at any time for no reason whatsoever.”  That’s a nice slap in the face to everyone who loved doing their jobs, did them very well, and enjoyed helping others while spending months away from home, family, and friends in austere conditions and are now basically told to “Get lost!”

What did I do today, you may well be asking.  Today I got tired of waiting for the EEO representative to answer my email (he’d marked that he’d read it but I don’t know if he really had or not) and no answers at the phone number I was given to contact the same person.  So, I figured if I can’t go any farther up in the organization, I might as well contact those who help fund the organization and see what they have to say or can find out for me.  Yup, I contacted my Congressional Representative and the two Senators from my state.  I sent them all the exact same letter explaining what’s happened, the responses I’ve been given, and why I feel that I (and others, though I cannot speak for them) have been treated unfairly by the organization or, if not the organization as a whole, at least by the Region for which we used to work.

Do I expect much to come from this?  Not really.  Well, the biggest wish would be to watch all of the people who work in the Congressional Liaison Offices going batty because of an employee who has a better understanding of Equal Rights than they thought bringing in the “big guns” but that’s not going to happen.  They hate it when Congressional inquiries are made on behalf of constituents who feel they’ve been wronged.  And, with it being an election year, many Representatives and Senators will be more willing to help those they represent in the hopes of gaining votes.  And since I’m no longer an employee, I have every right to contact whomever I want.  I “stayed in my lane” as long as I could.  Now I’ll do it my way.

Like the title of this post, if I’m going in for a penny I might as well go in for a pound.  They’ve taken their pound of flesh over the years and I knew that they’d never pay back all that I’ve given.  I’m tired of playing it safe and sitting along the sidelines hoping to remain under the radar to keep a job that I love because I could help others in their times of need and would certainly hope that there would be someone there for me if I were in the same position.  I’ll find a way to continue to help others somewhere down the road.  Whether it’s with this agency or another remains to be seen.  But I’m just not going to sit and “take it” anymore.

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