Monday, February 28, 2011

I was a member of the AFSCME

the union of  state and county and city employees that Scott Walker is trying to bust.

For 6 years I worked as a "part-time hourly" (in quotes because that designation is important, it's what local schools use to keep high skill employees from benefits and union memebership. It's the Walmart class of  government employees) computer lab administrator for a local community college.. I loved that job. I loved the students, the instructors. I loved that my job didn't feel like some soul-sucking exercise in corporate suckitude. I loved it enough that I took a $5 an hour paycut to go from doing what I do in  the private sector to teaching what I do in the public sector. I was not eligible for any benefits, not health care or pension. I wan't eligible for unemployment insurance because of my classification. If I worked over 18 hours a week I was subject to immediate termination. I went through a year where the school administration flately refused to follow federal guidelines for when paychecks are to be issued, and because I was one of the not-so-rare little snowflakes who didn't have union representation, the state labor board couldn't do anything about it unless I hired a private attorney.

The last year I worked there, I finally qualified for memebership in AFSCME. It didn't get me heathcare or a pension. But it did get me my paychecks in a timely fashion. Once I had union membership I didn't have a single late or missing check. I was informed in advance when paycheck dates would be weird because of scheduling. My few dollars a paycheck in union membership worked better than a year of legal threats at ensuring my basic employee rights were upheld.

And that is what they are trying to kill. Public workers don't make a ton of money, tjhey make less than they would in the private sphere. But we do it because we love the work and the stability. For a lot of us, that is worth the loss in compensation.
But without unions to keep us from the most avarice of  politicians, we suffer, and so do the students and citizens who we work for every single day.

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