Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Unions

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So I’ve been bossed around by the parent coordinator some more these past few weeks: He’s dictating my hours, telling me what projects to work on – most of them outside my job specifications – and because he knows jack shit about computers the stuff that actually needs being done is laying fallow and he, having volunteered the task of rearranging all the classrooms against the wishes of the teachers, is breaking most of what I did over the summer. He’s been designated by the principal to give me marching orders.

That my principal would have the power to designate a peer – one who has no experience or aptitude in managing people, and further has no technical knowledge – as my direct supervisor couldn’t possibly be kosher. There has to be a rule against this, and if there isn’t then it’s at least breaking any number of ethical guidelines.

So I called the union. DC37 local 2627, technology workers.

The union rep told me that there was absolutely nothing they could do because I was a provisional employee, which means I could be fired at will: I have no rights. I’ve been paying union dues since 2007, I said. Yes, they said, as a Computer Service Technician. And now I’m a Computer Service Technician Specialist, which has only been a position with any union representation – which is to say they had all of one meeting about it with the city – as of two and a half weeks ago, and protection doesn’t kick in until two years’ service under that title… provided, that is, DC37 gets a contract with the city.

So my two years’ work as a Computer Service Technician don’t qualify me for protection?

No, you’re working under a different title now, he said.

But I’m doing the same job.

Not on paper, you’re not.

The reason for this, he said, was because after a Long Island school realized it could fire all the provisional employees without trouble, Bloomberg realized he could do the same and laid off some 900 employees, including myself – as this was when I was laid off October before last. When I was rehired, it was into a new position the NYCDoE invented so as to avoid all the hassle of seniority or protection and, while it was automatically under DC37’s jurisdiction, there was no contract for it and there still isn’t. This is to say that the union was handily out-maneuvered, and it took them a full year to react. As such, this is why I’m being laid off again.

So I ask, how do I get to a permanent position? Take a civil service exam, he said, and be called to work somewhere. I already took one, I said. Not in our records, he replied, and besides, you won’t be permanent for a long while – next round is in 2014, and then you need to be appointed and work for a year past that to be protected. Not that it matters, because positions like yours were invented by the system to circumvent all that.

Why would anybody work in this stupid position?

For the benefits, said he. Health, dental, etc.

What do you suggest I do?

Keep your mouth shut.

I hung up. I thought I was paying for a union, not an HMO.

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