November 29, 2008

My Job Needs Resuscitating

Back in April, the job that I was doing for the paper that I work for was eliminated. I ended up taking an entirely new job just created that no one else had done before. I would be replacing three soon to be former employees. I received a grand total of about one hour worth of training from the outgoing guy who had all the single copy sales responsibilities. That's the papers that are sold in stores and in the vending machines. I received zero hours of training from the slacker who was responsible for the home delivery distribution. She decided to call in sick her last week of work rather than stick around to help out the poor schlep who was booting her out the door. The warehouse guy was really the only reasonable one to work with for the last week that they were employed. At least he didn't bail and stick it to the new guy. Well, not actually a "new guy". I have 21 years in circulation, just not the circulation they were responsible for.

The first month as the big cheese, I worked seven days a week around 12 to 14 hours a day. I was essentially training myself. I had to learn everything about this new position on my own. To top things off, one of the home delivery dealers had given a 30 day notice that was effective the day before I took over the area. Making matters worse, he had a carrier who quit on him two days before that. I was throwing a route that took about 2 and a half hours to deliver. It was, condos, businesses. I couldn't take a day off until someone knew how to do my job. Even if they knew the job, I couldn't leave them to throw the route. It would take them about 5 hours if they didn't know the delivery.

My "swing man" who works for me on my two days off could only be trained by me on overtime on my days off! He worked other districts his other three days. After about three weeks of training, (that's my 2 days off each week) he was able to have enough knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the job to at least let me have my days off. There were still things that he could not do that were necessary to the operation. I had to do these when I got back from my off days. This usually caused my Monday to be excessively long. I had become a zombie of sorts. Eat, sleep, work. Eat, sleep, work for weeks on end. My wife wasn't real pleased either. I missed some birthday's, doctor appointments, and various other promises of "I'll be home by....." all for the job. I felt obligated. I couldn't NOT be there and let the district blow up. How foolish to have such concern for a job well done. I could have easily taken the route of a slacker and been none the worse for wear. But that's not me.

Well the story goes along for a few months and I get the operation fine tuned. The operation is purring like a kitten and quite manageable. The home delivery dealers are doing a good job and I'm making sure they get paid. The single copy distribution is still a hassle for paperwork but that's the nature of that beast.

I get a call from my Teamsters Local Business agent. He says he has a meeting with the company the next day and he's planning a general meeting with the membership. This is never good news when those two events occur in close proximity. The news can only be bad and it generally costs us money or benefits. After his meeting with the company the rumors are flying. Layoffs, consolidations, cut backs. You name it we heard it from one source or another.

The next week I'm sitting in the union hall at the preordained meeting reading the informational page that was handed out and lo and behold, my district is being eliminated. The plan was to have my operation folded into the Mercury News operation in the same warehouse. In other words, I did too good of a job starting from scratch taking over from three people and making the thing work with just the one of me. Now I've worked myself out of a job.

The most galling part of all of it is the line that was fed to me by my supervisor. He had been on vacation the week prior when all this went down. He met with me and asked me what was happening like he hadn't been in the loop. I may have been born at night but I wasn't born last night. He said he just heard about it Monday when he came back to work. Yeah, ya lying sack of fertilizer. Nothing happens in his warehouse that he doesn't know about. He always sends some type of email when he's on vacation. He follows up on things even when he's gone, leaves voicemail, etc. Then he asks me what I thought would be the best way of implementing the "plan" for my area. I sat there thinking, "You've got to be kidding me!"

He was handing me rope hoping I would hang myself by telling him how to eliminate my own job. I don't get paid enough to create or eliminate jobs. The company can post the job description and I'll bid on it if I like it. If I don't, I'll bump into another department. The nerve of this guy. The longer I sat there the more upset I became. After repeatedly asking me what I thought I would do he came up with a scenario where I could keep my San Mateo Times district AND pick up the Mercury News circulation in Palo Alto. Let me see, here. That means I would have two jobs. San Mateo Times AND Mercury News. Along with that comes Wall Street Journal, Barron's IBD, Financial Times. Let me check the pay scale. Oh, right. Twice the work, same pay....sorry about that.

Never again will I assume that this or any other company has even a speck of gratitude at all for the work that the employees provide. For twenty one years I have worked Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, birthdays and anniversaries. I have missed countless family functions because of the ridiculous hours I work. I've gone to bed before my kids their entire lives. I work when the rest of the city is sleeping. I understand I chose freely to remain with the company all these years. The pay and benefits were just good enough to keep me from leaving. That has taken a turn for the worse as well. We have consistantly been diverting our raises to our health and welfare plan for several years now. This past September we actually took a pay cut to maintain our healthcare coverage levels. While we still have exceptional healthcare coverage, the company is moving closer and closer to eliminating the union. My hope is that they will stay afloat until I can secure a new career path. The newspaper industry is in dire straits with circulation in a free fall.

Get the paddles out, start an IV and CPR.


  1. I linked to this with commentary.

  2. Firing decisions are made at headquarters where you personal performance and sacrifices mean nothing. I work for a union company myself and it's sad to know that I will be let go before people who have no idea what they are doing but have seniority over me. Good luck in your search for a new career, you still have an advantage of doing it on your own terms.

  3. My Mom who's 83 still reads the newspaper - but that's b'c she doesn't get online. My hubby reads it at work - but it's one copy for a deli. We read mainly online.
    Only way to get a good health care insurance thingy to pay off is to get sick ... :(


Always glad to have some form of reaction/response to my posts. Caustic or otherwise.