Monday, May 05, 2008

Being paid to wait at home.

There was a time, not long ago, when staff in Planning, Property, Risk, Safety, Custodial and Emergency Services carried the pager after normal operating hours. The standard approach was to pay designated individuals a small stipend for the inconvenience of carrying a pager and having to lug a huge book of information around. While "on-call" it was never convenient to go any further than the nearest table and telephone.

The stipend was a mere $22.16 per event. Not per call, per event. What normally happened is you might get a single call resulting in four or five hours of event time but still earn just $22.16. More often than not, the call would be something that can be handled relatively quickly, so the impact was supposed to even out over time. However, as staff became more skilled at reducing the noise from lesser calls and false alarms, the actual average event lasted longer and longer. Human Resources was unwilling to revisit the stipend and members of the department started opting out of providing coverage.

There were only two non-exempt employees carrying the pager. The remaining members of staff were exempt and it was felt that "Pager Duty" fell within their standard responsibilities. Over time, the non-exempt employees started carrying the pager more and more often. The rotation for staff normally required one weekend of coverage each month. That is 48 hours of being "on-call" each month. Of course, we also had our fair share of holidays each year.

Currently, the Edmonds School District employs a Level 3, Prof-Tech, Classified employee to actively work for 16 hours a week and sit at home waiting for the pager to go off for another 16 hours. The total combined hours of actual pay (with associated medical and retirement benefits) is .8 FTE for a mere 16 hours of actual, physical work. In fact, the actual quote from Cathy Birdsong is that the employee "will receive full 32 hour pay for 2 days working 8 hours and 2 days being on call for 8 hours."

During a budget crisis, this seems extremely disrespectful to taxpayers.

Editorial: Now would be a good time for District employees to give up the guilt for taking five extra minutes at lunch.

7 comments: said...

Why not hire the Librarian at Woodway Elementary to carry the pager. I would be willing to bet they would likely spend those 16 free hours of pay working in the library.

Of course, who needs a Librarian at 3:00 in the morning?

Anonymous said...

Then there are the foremen at Maintenance who carried the pager for years. They didn't get a stipend either. said...

Why don't you email the last man standing.

Paul Koehn

Anonymous said...

Amongst the current staff, I'd be really scared if one of them had to respond to a real emergency. Maybe the #1 manager would just piddle his pants like my dog does when she's scared! said...

Your dog wears pants?

By "#1 Manager" you must mean the Incident Commander. I made a public records request for the names and training of all persons that carry the emergency pager. I got a short list of names, but... you guessed it, no training.

Hats are hanging on the power of prayer.

Anonymous said...

The emergency contact line is a total rip off. Sometimes you stuff is happening and sometimes not. If a big emergency happened I think only the Assist. Supt. would be notified so they could hide in the closet. Protect thy self could be their moto!

Anonymous said...

As I am sure those on the “short list” would concur, they are inherently more intelligent than those that they oversee, and thus require no training. They are of course in the position to determine not only what constitutes an emergency, but to formulate what is an appropriate response. They therefore will mentor the rest of us in proper emergency management, irregardless of any information or training that you may have received from other non-legitimate sources.