I’ve learned a few things since I’ve been working.
1. Racism is subtle, but very real in the workplace
2. The corporate/federal plantation is alive and well
3. You can work hard and do everything you’re supposed to do and they’ll still give your job to someone who is less qualified
I work in a place where the majority of the lower level employees are Black, yet those in top positions tend to be white. For example, my supervisor and division head are white. The director of the entire department is white. Basically what we, the lower employees in my division, do is work with customers who want to plan events in public parks, lots etc. They have to apply and we take their applications. We make sure they get the necessary approvals and make sure they’re aware of the regulations etc. before we issue them a temporary license to go forth with their event.
We deal with the grunt work, we get applications thrown at us all day and we’re responsible for answering the phones. My coworker and I are the lowest on the totem pole, we’re Black. We work everyday and do the bulk of the work in our office. My coworker, who can be annoying and condescending at times, has been working there longer than the supervisor. The supervisor actually comes to my coworker to ask questions about many things because my coworker has been there longer, yet she’s above my coworker. When my other evil coworker left for not being paid enough, my coworker and I basically had to pick up the slack. He was doing way more than he should have been doing, which may have been part of the reason he was so evil, and now I’ve taken on his workload and started doing far more work than I’m being paid for as is my coworker. Most days we don’t even get lunch, we’re chained to the desk in the office because the phone is always ringing and it must be answered. The minute one of us tries to move to go to lunch , a customer will come in and we end up forgetting about lunch and before we know it, the day is over. All the problems end up coming to our office, even when someone calls the supervisor, somehow it trickles back to our office and we end up fixing or dealing with the problem 9/10 times.
I make ten dollars an hour, that is LESS than I made when I was just doing intern work in college two years ago. HOW am I making LESS money when I’m doing more work and taking on the responsibility of someone else’s job pretty much? On the other hand, there is another woman in our department who is white. Her job is to arrange volunteers to come and work in the parks, lots and research etc. When I first started working there, I remarked to my female coworker how this woman was almost never in the office…to which my coworker responded, “that’s because she doesn’t do anything.” Meaning, she has more freedom in her job, she can come and go as she pleases, she works out in the fields a lot. Yet, she gets paid more than anyone else besides the supervisor in our office and she doesn’t do half as much work as the lower level employees. She gets to walk around relaxed and chill, while we’re chained to the desk and forbidden to leave pretty much. In fact just the other day she came in at the last minute and plopped an application on our desk for an event she was planning. Never mind the fact that she didn’t respect the requirements for submitting an application for that type of event. She was supposed to come at least 4-6 weeks in advance, but came the week before and then tried to tell my coworker how to do her job and got in an argument about why she shouldn’t have to follow the rules.
In the mean time, my coworker and I are swamped with work, over-worked and underpaid. Despite the fact that we’re already up to our elbows in applications and other issues, the division chief, who is white, decided to go on vacation right around the busiest time and left us to deal with all the events that were supposed to be his responsibility. We’re getting calls from people shouting at us for things we’re not even supposed to be responsible for and he’s on some island chilling. My coworker hasn’t been on vacation once the entire season because she can’t because there is no one else, other than me, to assist in the office.
It’s sickening the amount of work the lower level employees do compared to the amount of money they make. I’ve learned that the higher up you go, the less work you actually do. To top it off, despite the fact that my coworker has been there longer than the supervisor and advises HER on so many things, she has yet to be promoted and INSTEAD of the supervisor raising her pay and putting her in a higher position, she is bringing someone new in above her. I’M DONE with this.
I am not making enough money and I need to focus on grad school, so I gave my notice and I’ll be finished with that job in two weeks. All the bad experiences, the abuse by coworkers, now the workload increase and the lack of money isn’t worth it…now, looking at how they treat their employees and how hard it is for people to be promoted and move up, no matter how hard they work…it is just NOT WORTH IT! I am done.