Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What it's like to be laid-off: email from an HUCTW member

Below are passages from an email sent by a laid-off Harvard employee. HIRES is the online Harvard jobs database. Tasha is Tasha Williams, current President of the Harvard Union of Clerical & Technical Workers.

Checking HIRES almost every day and I can tell you that the few Gr 53 or Gr 54 jobs there are are each at least 2-3 jobs rolled into one. I applied for a position at JFK school and got a message back from their HR to do an "informational" interview." My impression is that they are screening layoffs especially and Tasha indicated at an HUCTW workshop that it was important not to be appear "sad" or unready for work in any way during these info interviews. Incredibly, she also indicated that we should realize that we are in competition with each other for these jobs and to do everything we can think of to give ourselves an advantage. Can you believe that? I'm sure you can... I was at a gathering in Watertown yesterday and overheard someone say that they understood that Harvard had "only laid off non-essential people", i.e. "dead wood." So this is how they are playing it. I am sure they will find some...robots to fill these unreasonable positions in time and for a time but I can tell you this for certain: Harvard will no longer stand for quality...
If I sound bitter, I am not really. I am relieved to be out of there just sorry that things have gone down the way they have at Harvard. I salute you for continuing to fight back. Everyone who was laid off, including me, is reeling from it. It's sugar-coated but it's a bitter, even poisonous, pill in this economy. It feels like a particularly unpleasant divorce ("I just don't love you anymore."). I am trying to pace myself, heal a little over the summer, and brace myself to go back into battle in the fall. Battle being any job at Harvard these days. It's a nasty ugly place to work and I am not sure I do want to work there anymore. That's what I'm trying to work myself up to. Does this mean they've won? I don't think so. I'm a damn good worker. Anyway, stay in touch with me, keep me posted...in August I'm going to bring my daughter home from her UNPAID internship and paid barista & sandwich making job and get her back to college.
Best to you, keep the faith

1 comment:

  1. Crimson Graduate StudentJuly 20, 2009 at 7:11 PM

    I support layoffs at Harvard. I think the sense of entitlement has to go. As a grad student, I see that the support staff of Harvard walks and talks with a sense of entitlement, most of whom, doesn't do their job very well. Let the cleansing begin. Fire the overpaid, slackers who give the university a bad name. They are overpaid anyway. Replace them with younger/cheaper staff that is willing to work hard. The quality of support staff here is dismal at best. I saw a guy whose job was just to check bags at libraries. He was rude and condescending, acting entitled. How much is he paid? way too much. Let him go. Replace him with a machine.

    In fact, the university should take a stand against union staff that thinks they are entitled to work replace them with the competent I say.

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