On notice

Everyone (!) at my job was officially notified today that for reasons of economy and efficiency we are subject to layoff effective May 1, 2009.


The fact is that within our agency (Planning and Resources, Social Services, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Office on Aging, Office on Disabilities, and Veteran’s Internment) ten positions are being abolished. Ten people (some of whom are my friends! and have worked there for 20+ years!) received individual notices of layoff today. We all received a general notice of layoff or demotion because of the kooky way that civil service works…

If someone has what’s called displacement or *bumping* rights, they can exercise that right against another employee’s position in order to remain employed. The *bumped* employee may also have displacement rights and cause the layoff or demotion of another employee in a lateral or demotional position. Sort of a domino effect from top to bottom.

So while my position or that of anyone else in my unit isn’t in jeopardy, there’s the chance that any of us could be bumped into a lesser position (if we’re lucky) or bumped right out the door if there isn’t some other unfortunate soul with less seniority.

Makes for great morale and a pleasant work environment, really.

Image lifted from here.

14 thoughts on “On notice”

  1. Good grief, Laura.
    So one employee can have the power to bump someone else down a peg? Holy crap.
    I’m gonna cross all my fingers and toes for you and your co-workers.

  2. I am well aware of that process, or similar. I worked for large defense contractor and when downturns came it was very obvious that the inmates were in charge … such lunacy. No manager had any say at all about who in the group should go .. it was just this pin-ball game of bumping and arguing this person over that person .. managers spent all their time in bumping meetings.

    It was depressing for management and demoralizing, as you say, for the troops. Everything you had done to impress your boss and make yourself a valuable team member was for naught … what a waste.

    If you survive and things settle down, find another job outside of government …. although there are those other benefits ….

    ps .. I find that here, too, the Audubon group is the least active in kids education of all the nature/conservation groups we have.

  3. I heard about a similar situation from a friend working within an agency here in Maine, it certainly makes a dreadful work environment. I will be thinking of you and hope that we pull out of this slump soon. It’s a shame to lose any position in an agency like yours that provides such essential social services.

  4. Sorry to hear about this. Isn’t it fantastic how the gutless people above you all leave it up to the employees to have to carry out the real layoffs if they have “bumping” rights. Sounds typical for this country in this day and age.

  5. We’re all doing without pay raises this year in an effort to control costs. They make it sound like we all agreed to this measure, but it was a top-down decree. And I’m sure folks at the top aren’t being as frugal.

  6. OH NO–I blogged on the California teachers’ situation today–and had NO idea the same situation existed for you.
    I know how state government and civil service works. I was in our state Dpt. of Health (in a former life) and because our governor wanted to show how “fiscally conservative” he was, we had to RIF a set number of employees. That was pure hell for me (one of the deciders). Then the cuts rippled through the system. Awful awful thing to do.
    I hope for you the damage is minimized.

  7. I worked as a civil servant for 18 years, so I understand this situation all too well. Not only is it nerve wracking for those not at the top of the chain, it has to be pretty awful for those who do the bumping if they have any feeling for those less fortunate. Seniority should nevre be the sole governing factor. How about performance? But that is not recognized often enough here.

  8. Good luck to you. I can only imagine the torturous waiting process, filled with a lot of sideways glances and worried expressions from everyone. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

  9. The military and civil service use the RIF (Reduction in Force) Act to allow staff to “bump” others. It can be quite ugly, and the result can be people who aren’t qualified for the new positions. Things can be reallly chaotic for a while as people learn their new jobs.

    I will definitely keep my fingers crossed that you survive this mania. I’m glad that you have a supportive husband and Luka to greet you when you get home mentally exhausted.

  10. That’s terrible, and it seems to me that “bumping” shouldn’t be allowed. It just creates a hostile environment, both during and after.

    I’ve never known us to do such a thing at the university and “bumping” isn’t written into any of our procedures. In fact, I’d never even heard about it until now, and I work in HR.

    I hope you keep your job for now and can find something better, without such a ridiculous and unfair practice. We’re still hiring! Come to Texas!

  11. The same things is happening at Miami University, Oxford, OH. My office-mate’s job was eliminated (along with 100 others) and she will be bumping someone out of a job. It’s going to be chaos around here, once the bumping begins.

    I don’t want to try to talk about morale or my office environment.

  12. That’s bad business. Who in the hell thought that one up? Sorry, that whole scenario is a real can of worms.

    My fingers are crossed for you.

  13. Gosh Laura, that sounds terrible! Not only do good people lose their jobs, but what happens to all the clients that are served as part of these jobs?
    (shaking my head and sighing…)

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