Being someone who was put at-risk of losing his job due to budget cuts, I was actually relieved to learn that I was on the chopping block when it finally happened. The future seemed uncertain at the time, but I looked upon it as an opportunity to move forward in my life.
Unfortunately, someone decided that it would not be humane to let employees at DOT know that they’re losing their jobs before the holidays. I believe that this is actually inhumane, because employees must wait longer yet to learn their fate. When I left the agency, morale was already at an all-time low. On a recent trip there to wish my former office director congratulations on her retirement, I could feel the tension in the hallways. Employees don’t want to hear bad news, but they want to know if it will be them so they can start competing for other positions or start planning for the future.
John Nordbo, an employee at DOT, mentions another issue in his editorial with the potential layoffs: bumping rights. The whole thing is going to be a logistical nightmare for many employees and the human resources bureau. In its simplest terms, if an employee had a previous position, was promoted to a higher position, and is then laid-off, that employee can “bump” back to a position of the same previous classification. If that position is not vacant, then the incumbent of the position is “bumped” out, possibly facing his or her own layoff. When you compound this among many employees (DOT has 340 staff in its reduction plan), you can imagine the mess this makes.
So, I agree with John Nordbo’s editorial. I’ve already been down that road, and I was fortunate enough to find something fairly quickly. But others may not be as lucky. It seems unfair that employees should wait until they know of their fate at the the very last minute. I know that DOT Secretary Frank Busalacchi has the utmost respect and compassion for all of the employees that work under him, and I know that he has as much trouble dealing with this as anyone else at DOT. It’s not a matter of blame, but a matter of timing. DOT should provide its employees the opportunity to know what’s going on and offer them a chance to plan for their futures.