Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Economy Brings Out the Best & Worst in People

I work for the Peninsula School District which is facing a deficit of around $5 million. Cuts will be made in all departments including administration. Superintendent Terry Bouck is voluntarily taking a 5% pay cut while other administrators are taking 3-4%. Bus mechanics are offering to give up a holiday and not take the raise that is in their contract in an effort to prevent layoffs. When I suggested that the para educators in my building offer to take a 3% decrease in hours I was met by mixed reaction. Some people are willing in order to preserve jobs while others are outraged by the notion. Still others refuse to speak or make eye contact.

We will be loosing some teachers that we’d like to keep and keeping others whom we could be without. My own son works in the Clover Park School District as an art teacher. Art is always considered to be expendable so we await May 15th with trepidation. That is when school districts are supposed to have their contracts out to teachers. Support staff, being more disposable, doesn’t have to be told until the last day of school. Depending on what happens to my husband’s job, I could end up being the sole gainfully employed adult in a household of six. I’m scared, too, but not so scared that I’ve given up believing that we are all in this together.

Last night I shopped at Fred Meyer on 19th. The checker seemed incompetent or confused and I began to get irritated when I stopped myself and thought, “He hasn’t been doing this long. I’ll bet he used to do something else that paid much better.” I left the store wondering if that might not end up being my husband in the months to come.

In the meantime, the folks largely responsible for bringing the recession to us are not worried about collecting unemployment, having to sell a home in a down economy in order to send their child to college, or how to stretch the pay check to the end of the month. Too bad Ronald Reagan didn’t live to see this.


Kim Thompson said...

Stephanie, I had three good friends all get laid off from their jobs in less than FIVE DAYS! My dear friend told me about applying for unemployment (total nightmare). In fact, I made the realization that EVERY family I know has been touched by lay-offs!

Stephanie Frieze said...

I think that everyone is touched in some way by what is happening. At school we are being told that if we get displaced we have to take the first offer of a position where we can "bump" someone with less seniority. If we don't bump it is considered a "voluntary" layoff and we cannot apply for unemployment. Our interpreter is concerned that she is going to get bumped. This morning she commented, "This means that if I don't bump a para I can't apply for unemployment even though I've worked for 19 years." She is upset because the whole bumping process is fraught with the emotions of displacing someone else.

Hard times.

Grandma Blog said...

I have come full circle. I was here during the depression. I just hope the recovery will not take as long as the first one did.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Amen, Lorrene!

Lorraine Hart said...

I too wish Ronald Reagan could see what began in his "let them eat relish and ketchup" reign.

I think of my sister and her husband in France who have had their pension cut, my sister in Canada who has had her pension cut, my son is laid-off in New York by a Canadian company, and my nephew in England has just joined the unemployed. Everyone is trying very hard to keep chins up, get by, and ride out the economic storm. Time to rebuild the middle class...trying to climb back by our fingernails!