Friday, January 9, 2015

Seriously, do they want us all to quit?

Yeah, I've been talking a lot about the Charlie Hebdo massacre and Islamists and what not, but this is pretty close to home and falls within the original purpose of the blog, so I better get back to basics for a little bit. Besides, there is so much political and other stuff I want to comment on that I don't know whether to shit or go blind, with apologies to any of you not from the South. The U.S. South, that is.

Anyway, yesterday at 3:30 pm, the agency's project manager came in and announced that effective immediately, the project was on a 40-hour-per-week cap. When you hit 40 hours, go home, see ya next week. Because we've been working with a 10.5-hour window, and many people were taking every minute available (overtime, y'all), that meant a good number of us hit 40 hours at 5 pm yesterday and had to leave. Yeah, we got today off, not that we wanted it.

I've mentioned before, 40 hours is slow starvation. The Washington area is expensive, and 40 hours means it takes two paychecks just to pay the mortgage and transportation costs for the month. The other two paychecks won't be enough to pay the other bills. It doesn't take long to wipe out savings or force you to decide which bills to ignore this month, at least in a single-income family (yeah, that's me). Naturally, those of us who can't live on 40 hours are hitting all our contacts to find a new gig. The only people who are going to be left on this project are those who are OK with 40 hours (might have a working spouse, might have low overhead -- meaning no student loans, which almost all of us do) or those who are too incompetent to get hired for another gig. I'm pretty sure we have a lot of those on this project.

If the client wants to keep a reaction force around in case something comes up -- and that's the only reason at this point to keep us around -- they are going to be unpleasantly surprised by the quality of the people they have left should something actually come up that requires our services. Personally, I hope to be gone within a week.

Obviously, it is totally within the client's prerogative to restrict hours, shut us down during the holidays, or whatever else they want to do. They don't owe us a job, they don't owe us overtime, they don't owe us anything. But these guys have a nasty habit of announcing bad changes close to the end of the day and making them effective immediately. I will grant that they have no obligation to do otherwise, but this is not a good way to keep morale up and keep people around if you want people to stay around. But they don't seem to be aware of this, or don't care. I lean toward don't care. I hate this business.

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