Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

01 November, 2006


My new job is going fairly well. I've finally gotten to the point where I have a decent view of the lay of the land. It's not a bad gig and I've learned some new stuff but I'm trying to decide if I want to stay here past December, when the decision would be made. For starters, I really don't like working out here on the far west side. There's no interesting places to walk to. It's like you've gotta drive to the bathroom. So far I've concluded that the only nice things about working on this side of town are closer proximity to: 1) Steve's Liquor and 2) Westfield Comics. For some reason, half the IT staff is in another building a few minutes walk from here. And the cubicles do a good job of cutting one off from those around you. I used to work downtown in a nice structure built in the 1930s, but now I'm in this ugly shack. The creek out back is scenic, but I miss downtown. The food carts, the Wednesday Farmer's Market, a Puerto Rican take-away joint nearby, the restaurants in the Gateway Mall; Mad City Music was a short jaunt away and Four Star Video was as well. The pasties at Teddywedgers always made for a nice, hearty lunch during the winter months; coffeeshops were nearby as was a post office; and my trek home meant I went right by the Willy Street Co-op, Woodman's, Bongo Video, & Star Liquor. No more group lunches at Parthenon's Gyros or Jamerica. Plus there is a severe shortage of hotties here. There's a couple accounting interns here but that's about it. Unlike social work, the engineering field doesn't attract a lot of women who wanted to grow up and design electronic components for a living.

On the plus side, the folks here are friendly and it's a relaxed, casual work environment.

I stopped down at DHFS earlier this week to see some former co-workers and pickup my Pampered Chef order from Ed. It was nice to see them again. People always ask me if I'm getting paid more but I'm not. It's really clear to me now that I'm on a road to nowhere with my current employer. Aside from becoming a master LAN admin overnight, there's really nothing I can do to get a raise outside of a token 2-3% annual bump. This despite every client having been happy with my performance. CUNA liked me and so, instead of being sent packing after a rollout, they brought me onboard. One state agency went short-handed for two and a half months in order to get me back. Another told me that I was they'd love to have me there after a mere week. And my current client accepted me within 2 hours of having lunch with a manager. But none of this has done me any good with my employer. I got a little less than 50% of the value of the contract with the state. But the state is downsizing and has caps on how much contracting companies will be paid for a particular position. To top things off, the state contracts out the work of hiring contractors to a company called Comsys and pays them 2.5% for this service. (And guess who eats that 2.5%?) Here's how it was explained to me: Comsys merely provides bodies. They go to 65 firms which trade in contracts who in turn go to probably 100 firms that actually employ people. I am certainly in favor of cost saving measures but wonder just how much money is being saved by having a Texas company that doesn't even have an office in Wisconsin do this. And I'm still interested to know how much taxpayer money leaves the Wisconsin economy when the state brings in contractors from Canada through a firm in New Jersey or moves the state's help desk to Illinois or mandates that certain products must be purchased from companies outside of the state.

Now I'm back in the private sector so you can bet your ass my company is getting more for my services than it got from the state. But my pay hasn't changed. My best guesstimate is that my take has fallen to somewhere around 40-43% of the contract.

My manager here at the client's site asked me last week if my contracting company's manager had contacted me about taking a UNIX class. He had not and I knew absolutely nothing about this when he brought the issue up. I still know nothing about this hypothetical class. Looking through some emails here, I see that my summer '06 performance assessment hasn't gone anywhere since 1 August when I completed step #1. The upshot here is that my manager was supposed to have tackled step #2 about three months ago but hasn't.

It's clear to me now that my employer will never be communicative with me unless I don't submit a timesheet by the Monday deadline and thusly prevent the people in billing from charging a client. It is also crystal clear that my pay is not commensurate with the value of a contract. A client could be billed $100/hour for my services and I'd still get the same amount every two weeks. I honestly have no idea what hoops I need to jump through to get a raise so that I'm making an average salary. But I suppose that a performance assessment would help.

OK, enough bitching for now.
|| Palmer, 12:43 PM


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