Well, it looks like I’m losing my job as of December 31st.
Yep. After five years of dedication I’m probably going to be let go as my place of employment merges with the other three Union Locals in the state. Five years of loyalty, putting up with extreme BS from ‘the hub’ who never wanted me here anyway, and plodding along doing my thing. Nothing’s definite yet and that’s kind of the hardest part about all of this. I’m in a holding pattern yet again. I swear it feels like the last few years of my life have been nothing but one holding pattern after another intermingled with one crisis after another. To tell you the truth, I’m exhausted. I had hoped to keep my job until I was ready to retire and that this Hall would stay open but it’s not looking like things are going to go in that direction. That’s a shame not just for me but for the Members who depend on this Hall and for whom it feels much more like home than a Union Hall. The door here is always open unlike in the other Halls where a Member has to ask permission to go and talk to the person who is supposed to be representing them. Here it’s ‘come on in and sit right down’. There it’s ‘wait out there and maybe someone will talk to you’.
After ten years in the law office (which also closed and that’s how I lost that job!) I was thrilled to get this job. I swear, I didn’t think I could possibly find a place of employment that was more inline with my morals and standards. Then I sat behind this desk and realized it’s all a lot of political bullshit. It shouldn’t be that way when it comes to the Members. It shouldn’t be that way when it comes to the employees but it seems there are a good number of people in this organization who are far more concerned with themselves than they are with anything else. For them it’s a Power Play and an Ego Stroke. For the poor working guy upon whose back this whole institution rests it’s about an Honest Days’ Pay For An Honest Days’ Work. Keeping a roof over their head and food on their tables. They would be much better served if some of those in charge could put their egos aside and work for The Greater Good but we all know that won’t happen. It’s simple not in their nature to act altruistically. Then again, those people have been trying to close this Hall since before I got here. That ego thing again. Those people didn’t hesitate to let me continually know that I wasn’t wanted here. They constantly tried to wear me down and get me to quit. But, hey, I’m a ‘New London Girl’ (those of you live around here understand that phrase) all the surrounding communities look at New London like it’s nothing but a trash heap anyway. Being a ‘New London Girl’ I’m really good at standing up, standing my ground, fighting back, and never backing down. I know I surprised a lot of them when I didn’t take their crap but, of course, I could never manage to earn their respect. That’s ok. I don’t think their respect is worth more than a three dollar bill anyway.
I plopped myself behind this desk and I worked my butt off to bring this office out of the 19th century and into the 21st century as best I could. That included overhauling their website which was an absolute mess! I busted my butt on that mostly on my own time from my own home because they simply didn’t have the proper tools on their computer and they weren’t interested in purchasing them. To this day I still have 80 hours of work in that website that they never paid me for and they probably never will. But, I prided myself on the site and how it came out once I was done with it. It was not an easy task especially considering the way their server works…or really doesn’t work, I should say. I got all kinds of compliments on it and the Members found it very useful. I think that ticked off some of ‘those people’ too. Eventually they took it away from me because they believed they could do a better job. I didn’t bitch. I didn’t cry. I just handed it over. They did absolutely nothing with it. I think they thought it would be ‘easy’ then they found out it was a lot more difficult than they had anticipated and the one IT guy for the six New England states didn’t have the time to keep it updated as those who took it away believed he would. It’s a lot easier to keep something like that running and up to date when you have a hands-on person like myself not so easy when you don’t. It just sat there collecting digital dust and not being updated with new information. The old information just sat there right on the front page making the Local look bad. I don’t think they realized that the website is more than a tool for Members it is, in fact, the first thing the world sees when they go online and start looking for ways to join the Union or for information on the Union. I just sat here biding my time watching it fall apart. Yep, eventually the person who took it away handed it back to me. I didn’t ask. I took it back, I gave it another good sprucing, and continued to keep it updated regularly.
Yesterday they informed me the site is closing. That stung. But, hey, it’s up to them, right? No sense in complaining about it. I understand, the Locals are merging, there will be a new Local # when all is said and done and there will be a need for a new website. However, if it were me, I’d keep the site up and running until the new one is ready to unveil just so there’s still a web presence. No one understands that concept just like they didn’t understand the concept of the custom mailing list I made and maintained for them. They thought no one would want that and no one would find it useful. But the Members did like it, they did want it, they did find it useful. Once I stopped with the mailing list the Members asked me why they weren’t getting updates delivered to the e-boxes anymore. Truth is, I just got so disgusted with the whole thing I stopped with the mailing list when I realized that both Halls were collecting and updating e-mail addresses (which was a good idea) but my Hall was the only one sending those updates in. Whatever updated email addresses were collected at ‘the hub’ never made their way down to me so those Members could be included on the mailing list. Not one time did any of ‘them’ say they appreciated my efforts on the site or with the mailing list. When one does not feel appreciated, after a while, one simply stops trying to please an ungrateful master.
In five years I have outlasted two secretaries at ‘the hub’, one of which was an extreme witch and I was oh so happy when she was let go. Truth be told though I think she was egged on by at least one of ‘them’ in the Hall to be nasty to me, to pick apart every little thing that I did, and basically behave as though she had some power over me which she did not. I’m here (for how long who knows?) and she’s been gone for quite some time. Before she left they hired an assistant for her, she’s a really nice woman and I like her a lot. I do not begrudge the fact that ‘they’ voted to keep her once the merger is complete. I am angry that I’ve been here longer than her and I thought seniority counted for something especially when it came to a Union. Obviously, I was wrong. Then again, as previously stated, ‘they’ have been trying to get rid of this Hall for well over a decade. Now they see another chance to do just that. So they’re running with it. There’s been bad blood here for a long time, long before I arrived on the scene, ever since the two Locals were forced to merge decades ago ‘the hub’ has been looking for and grabbing every chance it got to assert itself and behave like a dictator thinking that made them look good or something. Actually, it just makes them look pathetic and power-hungry. But, that’s on them.
Meanwhile this little two person office has kept steaming right along. Weathering every storm. Putting Members to work and treating them like family instead of cogs in a wheel. No we’re not fancy like ‘the hub’ we have an old style traditional Hall and not some palace built for the sole purpose of appearing bigger and more important than we are. In fact, this Hall has been a Union Hall for its entire existence. It was once the Mechanics Hall and was sold to Local 30 in 1943 and has been in the possession of the same Local ever since. Which, by the way, makes this Hall older than the organization that now oversees it and is forcing it to merge yet again. But we all know history means little in the face of ‘progress’.
So, while I’m stuck in this holding pattern, I’m trying to come to grips with my options. The one that keeps staring me in the face and yelling the loudest is also the ugliest; I’m 51 years-old, I have only a high school diploma (granted a high school diploma from 1984 means I was better educated than anyone with an associate degree obtained after 1995 or so!), in the eyes of the employment world I’m on my last leg. There are very few places out there that will want to hire me even with all of my experience. After here, even with stellar references from the people I’ve worked most closely with, I’m looking at some part-time job in a rinky dink office if I’m lucky. If unlucky I’m looking at fifteen years of saying; “Do you want fries with that?”
Not a pretty picture.
The option behind that, the one with the softer voice and kinder face that’s trying desperately to be seen behind Option 1 is saying; You NEED this break! After the last few years, you NEED a few months of doing nothing other than trying to find YOU again. You NEED THIS! You’ll be able to start writing again because you’ll have all the time in the world to do it and that will take off most of the pressure you’ve been feeling and living under for far too long.
I like Option 2 even though I know I can’t stay out of the workforce too long or I really will be considered unemployable by today’s standards.
I like Option 3 even better. You know, the one that’s behind those two, is barely visible and is just sitting there with a dazed expression whispering; Hang in there, babe, nothing is certain yet. Don’t give up the fight. We may keep this job and retire from here just as we planned. There’s still a chance that the Higher Ups will see Reason and understand the need to keep this Hall open at least as a satellite office.
I’m trying to hold on to Option 3 but I’ve never been an idealist. One of my biggest flaws is that I have always been a realist.
The worst part of the whole thing is the uncertainty. This damn holding pattern. I hate it. Oh well, I guess the dearly departed Tom Petty was right; the waiting really is the hardest part.
I’ll let you know when I can move away from the Cross Road and the holding pattern is over. Until then, if you’d like to send up a few good wishes for me I’d appreciate it.