February 17, 2005

Thinking at work

While I'm at work sometimes (most of the time) I have a lot of time to do nothing but think. Tonight I've been given something interesting to think about.

Being in the military I don't have a union to represent me. There is a good reason for this. We in the military have a very good retirement plan (assuming we're willing to stick with the job for the required amount of time), the best health care in the world and very good pay with guaranteed pay raises regardless of performance on a yearly basis. There's also the prospect of upward mobility so long as I'm motivated enough to take what I see as rightfully mine in the future (advancements).

So, in my insulated world of fantasy job security and unrivaled benefits I am faced with the opportunity to interact with the "real world" on a regular basis through our various private sector contractors.

In the event of a data communications failure in my job I call our provider to get them to look into the failure. They then pass the trouble ticket on to whomever provides the end of the line to the end user (me). Well this sequence of events worked out the way it was supposed to. The provider called the Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) who attempted to contact their after hours technician roster to get someone to trouble shoot my problem.

Wonderful thing about the private sector though... The advent of union protection of people who aren't interested in doing their job, but still willing to get paid and keep said job. The LEC went through their whole after hours roster without reaching a technician willing to go out to the remote location to work on the circuit.

Now I can sympathize with people about getting up late at night to work on something which doesn't belong to them. Unfortunately for me, when something breaks in the middle of the night I HAVE to get up and fix it, or I face disciplinary action. Unions protect the employee from this reality. The tech doesn't have to do his job if he doesn't care to, thus making the provider in violation of whatever contract service agreement they have negotiated with the user. In this case we're guaranteed 24 hour response time with hourly updates and as little time to repair as possible. You'd think a reasonable amount of time to repair for a remote circuit in Chico, CA would be what, less than 24 hours? Nope, not gonna happen. This circuit's been down for a WEEK!!!

Tonight I get a call from the provider telling me the LEC can't get a technician out to the remote central office until 7:30 this morning after having a week to repair the failure because no one wanted to do their job. Will those techs be disciplined for their lack of performance? Will they be reduced in pay or benefits because of their disregard for their duty? Will they have negative remarks entered into their review record for not performing their job as required? No, of course not. The union they belong to provides protection for them from the big bad words like duty and performance. These are the same unions which provide for their huge overtime benefits should they choose to take the "opportunity" to get the hell out of bed and do their damn job! These techs just wasted the union dues they pay so they could get some more sleep by not taking the opportunity to be paid what could amount to TRIPLE TIME, and now I have to deal with a down circuit throughout my night shift (without overtime, or the possibility of it, I might add) while they are in the fetal position with the comfortable thought in their minds that they will not have to deal with "The Man" when they finally decide to show up to work later on this morning.

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