Showing posts with label employment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label employment. Show all posts

The Price You Pay For Your Life

Today I sat in eight hours of boring meetings, except for the twenty minutes when I gave my presentation of course. Except not really, mine was really boring too. It was all data and numbers that are purely speculative and not very meaningful to the manager's in the audience. They also were bad numbers about how thousands and thousands of cases are stuck in a status where they will not move without our clients cooperation. And that won't happen.
So, In addition to listening to the state of the world at work which was depressing and boring, some of the people (actually a lot of the people) spent over an hour in traffic commuting to our office for this big meeting. Some of the people actually work out of my office and drive over an hour, one lady drives 90 minutes! Just to get to our boring job! But, she's a manager and probably has hopes of climbing up the career ladder and attaining one of the few higher choice positions that will open up in a few years as people retire with their nice thirty years of service and a comfortable pension. But to do this she will have to drive fifteen hours a week(1.5 hr x10) times fifty weeks for a total of 750 hours/year (an equivalent of 18.75 work weeks). This is in addition to her work week of 40 hours, so effectively her work week is 55 hours.
To me this is absolutely ridiculous. There is no way in hell, I would drive more than thirty minutes to work anywhere. I've never done it and I never will. Don't people calculate the cost of the their time and cost of travel when they interview for a job? Maybe not. Maybe those pristine little ponds in their backyards are worth the drive, I don't know. But I do know that some jobs aren't worth the money. The golden handcuffs are not always shiny and bright. There is often a price that people sometimes pay, but forget to calculate into their costs - of their job. Its either the commute, or the stress, or the hours and the fact that you won't really just work the forty hours you're paid for its often more in corporate America. And all the office politics that come into play. It's exhausting. Then the crazy commute home with all those stressed out people texting and driving like they're drunk. It's madness that I want no part of.
Anyway, I enjoy my bike ride to work. It always the highlight of my day.

Goodbye 3% Pay - FL State Workers Lose Pension Lawsuit

In a major victory for the state, the Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 against state workers and allowed the state to retain the 3 percent levy on worker salaries to offset the state's investment into the Florida Retirement System.  Download Retirement ruling
The ruling allows lawmakers to avoid another $2 billion budget hole next year and state workers will see their salary cuts retained indefinitely. The lawsuit, Scott v. Williams, was filed by the Florida Education Association after lawmakers passed, and Gov. Rick Scott signed to tap salaries of 623,000 government worker.
Lawmakers argued at the time that the change was needed to fill a $3.6 billion budget gap and bring Florida in line with 47 states that require their government workers to contribute to their pension plans. The savings was then plowed back into the budget, not into the retirement fund.
The Supreme Court overturned a ruling by Leon County Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford, who ruled in 2012 that the pension changes were unconstitutional because they impaired the contractual rights of the FRS employees, took private property without full compensation and impaired employee collective bargaining rights. She ordered the state to halt the practice and reimburse workers with interest.
Attorney General Pam Bondi and Republican legislative leaders immediately challenged the ruling and continued collecting money from employee payments. It is now up to the court to decide but a decision could take months.
If the seven justices had upheld the lower court ruling, state and local governments would have to reimburse active workers in the Florida Retirement System and cover the resulting hole in their budgets. The state has already taken more than $900 million from employees and are expected to take up to $2 billion by June 30, 2013, the end of the state's current fiscal year. State economists have predicted that revenues appear to be meeting expectations and, for the first time in years, legislators may not face another year of belt tightening. 

How To Attend Concerts for Free

Tomorrow night we're going to see the Motley Crue and Poison concert and we actually paid money for tickets. While this might not be unusual for most, it is for us. Over the past several years we've seen a few hundred concerts and 99% of them have not cost us any money. The main reason is that we're frugal and as much as I love live concert events and sporting events, sometimes I leave feeling like it just wasn't worth it. Like for instance tomorrow's concert tickets cost $95 each, but with the $5.50 facility charge, and the $30.40 convenience charge, and the $4 order processing charge the total comes to $230 for an evening of rock n' roll. Add on $11 beers and maybe a snack and it soon becomes a huge non-frugal affair.

On the other hand, if we were working at the St Pete Times Forum as guest services staff or security, we would be making over $100, and see the show too. So the swing between paying $230 and not making $100 makes it a $330 opportunity cost to attend the show as a guest. But we don't work there anymore since the motorcycle accident last fall, so now when we want to see a concert - we pay. We've actually seen Motley Crue about three times in the past few years, but they put on a great show and we know its worth it to attend and party, rather than babysit work.

The point is, if you want to see events for free, one way is to work for the venue, or in some cases you can even volunteer. We also used to work for Sentry Event Services and they staff events at Tropicana Field (baseball), Raymond James Stadium (football), the USF Sundome (concerts), and the Tampa Amphitheatre (concerts). Sentry will let your civic, community or church group volunteer and the money that would have been paid to staff goes to the organization you represent. The cool thing is that if you volunteer you really don't work that hard and you get good spots in the front sections. You're not going to get rich volunteering or working for $8/hour, but you can see lots of events for free.

But if you're not into working and standing for six hours at an event, you can still try another method to avoid having to pay for your tickets. We used to do this a lot before the economy took a dive, but I think it would still work for the right event. We would just buy an extra pair of tickets to an event and list them for sale on Stubhub for some ridiculous price and they would sell. The profit from the sale of one pair paid for our pair of tickets so we essentially went for free. But keep in mind this is risky and you may end up with tickets you have to sell for less than face value, or you may have to attend the show yourself. We would often buy a pair of tickets and plan to work the event, but if the tickets didn't sell we would just go as guests. This never happened but it was our insurance. You could also buy tickets for an event you know would sell out, (like playoff games) and take the profit and buy tickets to a concert or event you do want to attend.

Thoughts On Employment

This article was published about a month ago, and I've also read various other sources about the same problem, finding a job when you're unemployed and older. The chances of finding another job in your field is slim to none, and you may be involuntarily unemployed the rest of your life. If this happens, are you ready for it? It's a long time until you qualify for social security, or your pension if you're lucky enough to have one, and there are penalties for withdrawing your retirement savings for many more years.
Its scary to think that perhaps the scoundrel Rick Scott actually has believers and may get voted in as new Governor of Florida. Life will suck if that happens, especially since I'm a civil servant of the State of Florida - the very group of employees that Rick Scott would love to minimize and eliminate from the world. If the wrong person gets in office and the legislature cuts government staffing, I may lose my job. And as an older worker approaching mid century vintage this is not cool. If I were one of the unemployed, would I get rehired? A growing trend is that companies only will consider employed people as candidates for their openings. I think I have a pretty good chance compared to other candidates even if my competition is younger. Here are a few ideas on how to keep yourself competitive in the job industry.
  • Stay Healthy - I mentioned how to stay healthy earlier and I believe that a healthy body and a healthy mind go hand in hand. If you keep yourself healthy and you "look" healthy, you'll be more attractive to employers. They may assume you are healthy if you look and act healthy. This means less medical expenses for insurance and less sick time and lack of productivity. If you smoke, don't let your employers know - don't waste time at work out by the smoking area.
  • Keep Up Technologically - one sure difference in our society with age groups is the use of technology. The younger crowd uses it. Most older people shy away from technology because they don't understand it. This is a key factor in your hiring potential - do you know how to operate a computer, can you figure out all the features on your cell phone, can you figure out how to scan and send a document on the copier at the office? Do you know how to use a lot of the features and programs on your computer - like all the Microsoft applications and email and the Internet? If you don't, you're not going to get the job because there are a ton of people who know that stuff.
  • Be Interesting - It seems to me a lot of younger people prefer to text or email rather than talk to friends. Social skills are lacking and this will hurt them in the workplace, this is where you can have the advantage. If you have manners, know etiquette, are polite and yet interesting to talk to, you will succeed in the interview. A person who "fits" and doesn't seem to have outward hangups or is opinionated and set in their ways will succeed at work and be easier to train. You can always be taught the job skills needed, but you can't expect to learn people skills on a job. Interviewers look for people skills.
  • Use Your Brain - I mean outside of work. Keep your critical thinking skills sharp by reading and writing, not just the newspaper either. Write a Blog. Do crossword puzzles or cryptoquips, or for me I calculate my coupon grocery shopping trips and organize my coupons. This is no easy feat as most of you know. Anyway, it helps to think on your feet, and do math in your head when you're shopping.
  • Face Reality and Change What's Wrong - If you are obese or ugly or stupid, you can change. You can lose weight, or use makeup and change your hairstyle, or start learning (or pretend you know what you don't) if you are stupid. No matter what your problem is, you can work on it. You may not want to face the fact that you're a bitch to get along with and that you hate minorities - but you need to. Reality is perception. If others perceive you to be offensive in some way they won't want you around. You may have no clue why you don't get any jobs after you've had interviews - and there is a reason. You need to find out what your problem is and deal with it.
  • Act Younger - if you do the things you liked to do when you were younger, you'll feel younger. One thing I do is ride my bicycle almost everyday. Its carefree and there's that sense of danger and riskiness being out on the road with all the crazy drivers. Its like being on a roller coaster ride at Busch Gardens - but its real life. Its fun and I love how it makes me feel high when I ride really hard and get all pumped up. You could also try wearing some clothing you liked when you were younger, some shoes or a new hairstyle. All these things will help you act younger and seem younger. It will make you smile.
So, that's my take on it. I hope any of you out there who are unemployed take all this thought with a grain of salt, I know every situation is different and we all have circumstances that are beyond our control. But, there is probably something you can do to improve your chances of getting a job. Just figure it out and do it.

Should Unemployment Benefits Be Extended?

The 2009 Stimulus packaged passed last year authorized up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits to those who have lost their jobs. Now almost 2 years later, some people are still unemployed, collecting at least $250/wk to stay out of work. That in my opinion is not a bad deal. These people have time to pursue new training, educating themselves for a different, more needed job, or to begin a business on their own. But do they want to do that? I'm not so sure.
Before you cast stones and say I'm being mean and I don't know what its like to be unemployed, you're wrong. I worked for fifteen years in the food industry and in the beginning of the decade I was laid off from 4 different jobs within 2 years. The companies eliminated my research and development position, or closed the facility to move operations to another state, or cut back on quality control since it was an expense. I was on unemployment briefly for a month before finding another position. But now I make 25% less money than I did in the food industry. But I have a job. Luckily its a stable job. But I certainly didn't take it for the money, or for the stimulation. I make the same amount of money now that I made just a few years out of college. But I know better than to quit in hopes of making more money, or getting more personal satisfaction from a job - its too risky for me. So I hang out in a terribly boring job.
I don't think Congress should extend the unemployment compensation past 26 weeks for people. There are jobs out there and they need staff. I have other part time jobs doing security for concerts and sporting events, and secret shops at restaurants. Its not much money, just over minimum wage - but I do it for the event, not the money. But my part time employers are contacting us weekly because they need more people to work.
Most people on unemployment don't want to lose their full benefits to work and only earn half as much. I can understand that. The government is demotivating people from working, when they can stay home and not work - but bring home more money.  So the incentive to not work needs to go away. Unemployment compensation needs to stop after a reasonable amount of time. I think 26 weeks is reasonable.
By the time Congress returns from its July 4 recess this week, more than 2.1 million unemployed people will have missed checks. The House passed a bill to reauthorize the benefits last week; a similar bill did not pass in the upper chamber due to a Republican filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that as soon as there is a replacement for the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Democrats will have the 60 votes they need and the bill will pass. If Reid is correct, layoff victims will be paid retroactively for any missed checks. Without a reauthorization, 3.2 million long-term unemployed will have found themselves ineligible for extended benefits by the end of the month.
Maybe when the unemployment gravy runs out, people will get back to work.

Get Paid To Do What You Want

I think I've mentioned before that we have a busy October month ahead of us, and it just became a little busier since we signed up to work at Raymond James Stadium for the U2 concert coming up October 9th. One of the reasons we have a busy month ahead is because there are a lot of entertainment venues and events that we like to attend, and we are GETTING PAID to go. How, you many ask?
Years ago, we were given the opportunity to volunteer as ushers at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, and it meant we got to see the game for free. We thought it was a fun experience talking to Wisconsin Badger fans and enjoying the afternoon outside on a beautiful New Years Day in Tampa. We also talked to other staff there and found out that many were employed by Sentry Event Services and made about $8/hr to watch the football game. We also learned that Sentry did event staff and security for the concerts at the Ford Amphitheatre and Tropicana Field for baseball games. This was a great opportunity for us both to attend entertainment events, and get paid. Usually a show is about 5 or 6 hours of standing around, so about $48 each of us, so we bring home close to $100 for every event we work. We were hired in 2004 and have worked about 30-40 events each year since.
But, Sentry Events doesn't staff events at the St Pete Times Forum which hosts indoor concerts, hockey games, basketball games, the circus and skating shows like Disney on Ice. So we marched down there and applied so we also get paid to attend events we want there too. The pay isn't as good, but it still brings in $75 to $90 per evening, and the work is a lot simpler, since we are just guest services, rather than security staff.
So between the Forum and Sentry, we are both working 6 events this month that we would like to attend, and will bring home close to $500 rather than spending it on the ticket prices. Its a good gig if you are healthy and can stand for up to 6 hours and you enjoy being around crowded events and people. We've been working shows and sports events for over 5 years now and the savings in ticket prices and entertainment dollars is significant. If there is a show we really, really want to have fun at with drinking and partying, then we spring for a ticket. We have often purchased tickets for high demand shows knowing we can double or triple our money on Stub Hub selling the tickets, then we just sign up to work. If the tickets don't sell (which hasn't happened yet...) then we just would plan to attend rather than work a show.
So, if you're looking for a way to attend those football games, concerts, baseball games, contact your local venue and ask who does the staffing for guest services and security, its usually contracted out so its not necessarily the venue that employees you.