Posts Tagged ‘unemployment’


Yes, the picture says it all about my back to work blues

Wow, it’s been almost four months since I was last laid off. I can’t believe it’s been that long. Summertime is in full swing, and I’ve been enjoying my lengthy vacation here at home. Movies, theme parks, video games, and having my niece and nephew here for some fun in the sun has been great. However, all good things have to come to an end. This means that I need to start thinking about what I’m going to do about going back to work, because unemployment isn’t going to last forever.

Working as a union electrician can be a tough life. Sometimes the going is good when work is in abundance especially when I was working at the nuke plant in Port St. Lucie. Of course with all the good comes the bad when things get slow. A partial solution to that mess would be for me to head out on the road. I’ve , found some small jobs in Georgia and Alabama, but these are only temporary solutions just to pad my bank account so that I don’t have to worry about going broke. I will say that I enjoy the freedom of working on the road, but I’d rather be home instead so that I can be close to family as well as sort out my personal life.

Part of me wishes that I made a career in the video game industry reviewing games and stuff. Unfortunately that didn’t happen so I need to think more realistically and constructively. So what are my options? Well here’s a few options that have been floating around.

OPTION 1: Fort Lauderdale
Well it looks like a fall outage at the nuke plant at Port St. Lucie is coming up. It’s not like the long outages that I’ve had in the past, but for a chance to work near home for 2-3 months would be nice. Sadly, the company may be only looking for 35 guys to man the job which makes this a longshot for me since I’m near the bottom of the book. Maybe they can add a stipulation for badging within in the last six months which would be right up my alley. There’s also work coming up at the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport and the Broward County Courthouse, but I’ve heard those rumors for the last two years and nothing has happened yet.

OPTION 2: Orlando
Disney’s D23 Expo is coming up next month. At the convention they’re expected to announce a full overhaul to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Star Wars Land, Monstropolis, and Cars Land) as well as the Avatar Land project for Animal Kingdom. These projects are expected to last at least three years which would give me some stability as well as being close to home. Disney always hires union contractors which is good news for me. The bad news is that the pay scale kind of sucks, but I can still make a good profit in the long run. The big question however is when this will all start.

OPTION 3: South Carolina
I haven’t done any work in the Charleston area so an initial signing of their book is needed. I’m hearing about a Google facility which will be a long term job for up to a year. A couple of guys from my local plan on heading there and asked me to tag along. Sounds like some good work as long as the books aren’t ¬†jammed with names and hurricane season misses the coast. The other bad news is that I won’t be able to pick up my PlayStation 4 on launch day. I have it paid off so it looks like someone else will have to pick it up for me and I’ll bring it back to Charleston after Thanksgiving.

OPTION 4: Alabama
Ok, this is the worst case scenario due to the fact that there won’t be any new jobs coming until 2014 at the nuke plant in Athens. Two outages are planned in February and in October. Chances of me snagging those jobs if I have nothing else for the rest of this year are very good, but waiting for these opportunities to come up is not a good idea because it’s a drain on my bank account. I need something before that so here’s hoping it doesn’t come down to this.

Well, those are my options. What do I do? at least I have some time to figure it all out. Here’s hoping for the best. Also if anyone is looking for an editor for their gaming site let me know.

Five weeks. It’s been five weeks since I’ve been laid off from my cushy foreman gig at the St. Lucie nuke plant. Layoff due to reduction of force is something I’m used to, but the part that really hurts is when I begin to miss that nice paycheck of $2,500 weekly down to $275 weekly in unemployment benefits. Yes, it sucks. However, the part that really drives me insane has to do with when I file for the eligible benefits I’m entitled to, and then the unemployment agency decides to not pay me. Why is it that every time that I’m laid off I have to fight the agency just to get paid.

The day after I was laid off I filed for unemployment. The process which almost takes forever every time I enter all the information feels like a chore. Then there’s the Initial Skills Review they wanted me to take. I guess they want to see my intelligence level as well. They say it’s to help the re-employment process. What it really boils down to is a 45 minute waste of time, but I had to do it just so I can receive benefits. Honestly, employers don’t really care about these results from a ridiculous test, so why should I? All I want is the minimal weekly monetary benefits.

Now comes the wait. The excruciatingly long wait just to receive my benefits. It should only take two weeks. However, this process took much longer due to the fact that when I first claimed weeks one of the weeks was my last week of work. Being the honest person I am I entered the correct information including what I earned that week. This is where the problems began.

When I noticed that I wasn’t getting paid I made a phone call to the agency. The operator on the other end of the line said for me to “be patient.” They told me that my account was on hold since they needed to confirm that I’ve been laid off. It will take 1-2 weeks for everything to get settled. Two weeks later I claimed weeks again while still awaiting my benefits from the previous period. I called back and the operator told me that it will be “anyday now.” Once again the operator told me that they needed to contact my previous employer for my layoff. I told them that I had the information, but they said they can’t take my info. Why not! It’s the same shit, and this process of fucking me over can end!

Now I come to today. Next week I need to claim weeks once again and the unemployment agency has yet to pay me a dime of my benefits. I called again and once again focused my rage upon them. They still had my account on hold. After a few minutes of venting at the operator, and threatening a potential lawsuit, they finally caved in and are finally sending me my money. Wow! It took me five weeks of stress and pissed off rage, along with the threat of bringing in an attorney, to get what I’m entitled to. That’s fucked up. I still want to know if they ever called my previous employer? They probably never did.

What really bugs me is if I’m the only person who has to endear these type of problems. This is why I dread getting laid off. I know that every time this happens I have to go through the same bullshit over and over again. Why? I just want my period of transition from one company to the next in my union lifestyle to go smoothly. A peaceful break between jobs is not too much to ask for now is it? Hopefully this is the last time I have to bitch about the unemployment agency…or maybe not. We’ll just have to wait and see after the next job.

I’m not known for being very political about anything, but every once in awhile the politician in me comes out and has to make a statement. So let me make a few points on why I once again voted for Barack Obama for another term as President of the United States.

Let me share with you something that made me angry

Yesterday, while having a fun day with the family, I heard something that really disgusted me. Someone deciding to vote for Mitt Romney because her doctor told her to. “Are you fucking kidding me!” A doctor, a man who’s got plenty of money now has the power to¬†influence your vote. That’s preposterous! While I could spend the afternoon and evening debating why she was wrong I kept my mouth shut, because the last thing I wanted was a political struggle in a family setting.

Back to my point. Let’s Start With Unions

Considering the fact that I’m¬†a Journeyman Wireman in the IBEW (this is a union for some of you that might not understand) being somewhat political and paying close attention to the candidates running for office is very important. Why? Well that’s because¬†my very livelihood is at stake. Let me just share one thing that Mitt Romney has in mind on day one if he¬†is elected President.

So what does this mean to me. Well coming from a man who once supported unions (mainly the IBEW back in 2002 at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City), his plan is to eliminate those who belong to unions and put them out of work. This opens the door to Right To Work Laws that will deteriorate salaries, eliminate pensions and annuitlies, and repeal the Davis-Bacon Act.

Now I’m very comfortable with the living I have, but Mitt Romney wants to take that away from me and have me work for barely above minimum wage. Romney, by the way, rejected¬†a bill to raise minimum wage to $8.00/hour as Governor of¬†Massachusetts. I’ve worked hard to get to where I’m at. I’m a skilled craftsman with five years of apprenticeship training both on the job and in school. Union craftsmen and women are the top skilled people in the industry. These contractors that Romney spoke to, who are¬†anti-union, want to bring in other people (preferably from south of the border), for lower non-taxable wages. Basically, they’ll¬†pay them cash under the table and¬†avoid taxes (I’ve actually seen this happen).

Barack Obama believes the right to organinze, stands behind unions, collective bargaining agreements, and project labor agreements which do talk about the policy of eight hours work for eight hours pay.

The Auto Industry

I’m sure everyone has seen the ad running where Mitt Romney has said that Jeep, a subsidiary of Chrysler, is shipping jobs to China. He said this in a rally to the people of Ohio (a key swing state) where Jeep manufactures vehicles.

Liar! Liar! Pants On Fire! Mitt Romney has now been caught terrorizing the people of Ohio with their jobs just so they’ll vote for him. What an asshole. Jeep is not moving any jobs overseas, and are expanding plants in Michigan and Ohio (sounds like they might need some union labor for that project). Did Romney take it back? No! He bought more airtime with that specific ad for scare tactics. And people want this¬†liar for President? Barack Obama helped save the auto industry with the bailout, and now American companies¬†including General Motors are florishing once again.

Bain Capital

Mitt Romney is part of the 1% who are all about getting richer while the rest (mainly the middle class) suffer. Check out this feature for when Romney was a founding member and CEO of Bain Capital.

Romney wants to curb his involvement with Bain Capital, but it’s important for the American people to see what him and his fellow 1% have been up to. Barack Obama is all about strengthening the middle class, helping lower the¬†unemployment rate, and creating new jobs. The latest numbers on jobs has supported that fact that things are slowly getting better even thnough Romney wants to put his own spin on it in a negative way.

There are so many issues that would allow me to go on and on, but these were the issues that focused on me the most. This past Friday, I went to early voting and waited just over an hour to cast my vote. I had no problem with waiting and neither did anyone else. I did my homework beforehand, and along with voting with my wallet in mind, I made a choice. The right choice for me.

Tomorrow is an important day for all of us. It’s important that all of us take part in our patriotic duty and make our voices heard.¬†I’m not here to influence your vote unlike some doctor did to someone I know. All I mentioned to you was the facts that helped make my choice.¬†It’s up to you to make the all important decision.

Go out there and vote. Just remember that if you don’t vote I suggest you don’t come bitching at me about who got elected into office.

For weeks I’ve been waiting. Watching other people exit the door, and wondering when it will be my time. This past Wednesday I watched a large majority of my brothers and sisters get their layoffs. As they left my mood worsened. I wanted out. Then on Friday it came. I’m officially laid off. Thank the Lord I’m out! As I posted on Facebook with my layoff status some people thought I was nuts, but then I explained why and they understood my pain.

Three months I’ve been here working at the nuke plant in Port St. Lucie. The outage itself only accounts for just over two months. Enthusiasm was the morale of the people in the beginning as we collected our huge paychecks weekly. Checks filled with tons of “premium pay” in between my one day off a week. Now those cries of joy have turned to tired moans of “I can’t believe I’m still here.” The plant says they’re having ” Megawatt Fever!” The people I’m around have a completely different name for this event and call it “Layoff Fever!” We’re tired and beat down from working long days and nights in the heat, rain, and swarms of mosquitoes. The job became nothing more than a three ring circus. It was time to head home. It was time for a change of scenery.

“Layoff Fever”

A couple of weeks ago I arrived at that point of my job where the workers are saying that magical word. Layoff. “When is the layoff?” they cry. The head honchos offer no answer, or they say “I don’t know.” Of course I know that’s all bullshit. The company has a plan, and their job is to execute that plan along with the people who work here. The big question then became when? Rumors ran rampant. Hell I started a few myself just to keep my sanity. “15 and 5.” Fifteen laid off and five are getting fired. Some of the guys took it very seriously. I walked away with a smile on my face.

Then it happened. The beginning of the layoffs. They asked for volunteers and all the local brothers said “I’ll go.” The travelers were wondering what the hell was going on. “Man up your work” they say. I had no plans of leaving right away since I was a foreman, and my superintendent liked what I was doing along with the fact that we like cars. He kept telling me that he wanted to keep me around¬†until the end. Sure I was ok with it in the beginning, but as the outage was winding down and the¬†corporate bullshit hit and all-time high I just wanted to leave. My superintendent however had other plans.

First Time Foreman and Lessons Learned

A few months ago I was here working night shift doing Temp Power and Lighting for eight months. I was stuck in the grind doing the same shit over and over each day. I was bored. I was ready for the layoff, but the allure of the paycheck kept me going. Now I’m a foreman running my own crew. Running a job I knew nothing about, because the person who knew everything stepped down. I was winging it from the beginning and my crew knew it. They thought I couldn’t hack it, but after a week or two I had it all down. I¬†became¬†the Yoda of MSRs and Feedwater Heaters. You wouldn’t believe the shit coming out of my mouth. That shit was knowledge. Surprised¬†my crew¬†were at my sudden rush of wisdom making my slide in as the boss quite comfortable.

So after a few months in the joint known as¬†my job (I even wrote “inmate”¬†on my hard hat) started to wind down I started to look back at some lessons learned.

One: Taking the initiative and stepping up to the foreman role was great for me. I learned a lot about the trade I’m in and how to read blueprints.
Two: Doing TP&L during the last outage was not a¬†smart career move. Sure the money was great for little work and sitting on your ass, but I saw¬†the type of people who worked that department and I realized that I’m so much more than plugging in outlets and lights.
Three: When a job starts getting to the point of stupidity then you know it’s time to get out.
Four: When your a foreman your more than likely to stay to the end, but at¬†least I wasn’t one of those “Call By Name” assholes who jump the book and take a job away from a brother who’s number is next in line to work. Sadly those guys won’t be leaving the job anytime soon. Suckers!!

Now¬†that I’m home what do I do next? Well I plant to take the rest of the year off and become a professional bum collecting unemployment at $275 a week, update my resume, enjoy the holidays with my family, and play some video games. Leaving the paycheck will be hard to swallow, but when 2013 arrives (unless the world ends on December 21, 2012) I’ll be back on the road making more money. Until then it’s party time.

Yes, it has finally happened. Time for my summer vacation to end and work to begin. Six painful weeks¬†I suffered as I went to my union hall for the disappointing news of my number not getting called. Happy to see some of my brothers and sisters get the call to head out to work. Some who’ve been out of work for a long time now enjoying that big paycheck. I wondered when it was going to be my time. Six weeks of dreaming for those big weekly pay days that will pad my growing bank account. Yesterday, that dream came true. Barely.

For a period of time during this 17 man call for the St. Lucie Nuclar Plant I didn’t think they would reach my number. Low numbers highlighted the early going with people I’ve never heard of. Then they reached the 100s. I was at #137. I had a chance. All of a sudden some brothers “passed” on the call. A smile then went across my face. It was coming. The 14th number called was mine. I jumped up and said “Yes!” I’m in! Then it hit me. If nobody passed on the call I would’ve had to wait another week. Maybe even wonder if I would make the cut at all.

After receiving my work referral the first thing that popped in my head was “I’m going back to work! No more crappy unemployment money!” Then another thought hit me. “Oh shit, I’m going back to work!” No more vacation. No more slacking off. Soon it would be time to put the tools back in my hands and do the job asked of me for the next few months. At least the paycheck is worth it.

Tomorow I’ll be packing my bags and making my way to Hutchinson Island for the weekend. Get myself settled in and¬†do some¬†grocery shopping. Oh yeah, and I’ll be heading to the movie thether to go see The Dark Knight Rises. Like I’m going to miss that. Fat chance! Once Monday at 6am comes around reality will hit me once again. I can’t say what I’m doing when I’m there, because that would get me in trouble. Good news is that come November I’ll be laid off and back home once again for the holidays with the family while getting ready for a return trip to Athens, Alabama next year.

That phrase in the title says it all, because it sure has become a recurring theme for the past few weeks. Drive 100 miles from my home in Palm Bay to West Palm Beach where my local union hall is located hoping to hear my number called so that I can go back to work at¬†the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant outage. Once again the disappointment fills my eyes as my number doesn’t get called. How much longer do I have to wait?

Every week for the last month and change I’ve showed up at the hall and signed the day book hoping for the best. The only part that sucks is when I pull into the parking lot and see it full of cars with my local brothers and sisters all wanting the same thing. A large majority of the people there I worked with on the previous outage making it a reunion. I’m all happy when their numbers get called, but sad at the same time when I still have to wait on the pine pony. They ask me when I’m getting out there. I tell them “I really don’t know.”

Now let me just state for the record that I’m enjoying my so-called “vacation time” resting up for the busy fall and winter seasons ahead of me working 6 days a week, 12 hours a day at the nuke plant for the upcoming outages. Time off between jobs is great, but after awhile you get that itch. The greedy itch of wanting to go back and make that sweet check every week once again. I miss those paydays. Unemployment money sucks!

What really busts my bubble is that every week I move closer and closer in the book for the call, however each week I feel like I’m so far away. The recordings on the night before state “Red Badge Preferred” which is where I fit in, but when the callout comes around the next morning they just end up taking the first person available. Some people with extremely low numbers show up out of nowhere and take the calls. Some even get spun around failing background checks and get sent back to the hall hurting those who’ve been patiently waiting. People like me.

So here I wait. Waiting on the opportunity to go back. Will it happen? Who knows. All I know Is that I’m not waiting forever. Today I also signed a road book in Alabama to head back to Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant for two upcoming outages. Who will call first? I’ll just have to wait and see. I think I¬†need a beer.

Unemployment really sucks. Why? Because my issues with collecting my benefits has once again hit another big roadblock. All I want is to make my time while I wait for the next job to be as painless as possible. Once again that is not the case as my frustrations continue. I told you before that the unemployment agency’s goal is to not pay you. So here’s what happened this time.

Two weeks after I filed my initial claim I had to claim weeks to gain benefits. I did all the work on the computer including adding my work searches (which is telling them that I called the union hall…truth), but there was something that seemed to bother me. I never received anything in the mail that my claim was approved. There was plenty of times where I claimed weeks only to receive nothing because the agency decided to put a “flag” on my account just to be a pain in the ass. Well I decided that this time I would call them to find out what ws going on.

As I called the unemployment agency, I gave them my information and here’s what the “supposedly kind” lady on the line told me. She told me that I had a waiting week and that I wouldn’t get paid.

“Oh hell no!” is what I told her. “I already served a waiting week two months ago when I first claimed this year. That was the only week I was out of work before I went to Alabama. I’m not getting screwed by serving a second one.”

She replied “Oh, I’m sorry. I just noticed that you did so we’re going to pay you for one week.”

“Wait just a minute. What about the other week.” I know what’s coming. I’m about to get fucked again.

“Well sir, according to our records you claimed that on the week ending May 13 you claimed over $1,000.”

“Claimed $1,000 say what lady!” My attitude clearly changed by this point. Maybe because I wanted to see where that money was so I can have it.

“Yes sir, you made a claim that you made money on that week.” She was getting pretty stern by this point.

“I got laid off on Friday, May 11 lady. I made no money that week.”

“Well sir, what we’ll have to do is make a written claim and send it to Tallahassee to get it cleared up.”

My usual response is “How long is this going to take?” Now all I can think about is the past few times where they fucked me. This is going to take months of me fighting, frustration, pulling my hair out, and absolute agony just to get $275. Money which will mean absolutely nothing, because I’ll already be working again. I think their goal is to see if I’ll forget about it. Then again I’m Jewish. We never forget about money no matter how small it is.

She told me that it would only take 7-10 days. Business days that is. Of course I wasn’t buying into this, but what else could I do. You would think that they would just fix this right away so¬†I wouldn’t have to go through all these problems, but then I remebered that this is the state unempoyment agency. After being put on hold for another 15 minutes, where I had to listen to awful elevator music that could put you to sleep, she came back on the line to tell me that the paperwork was on the way for me to fill out. Great…all this paperwork¬†for money that may never arrive, but they sure will tax you on it come January. Well on that note, let me raise a beer and toast to another two months of fighting the unemployment agency. I hate Rick Scott!

Unemployment…what a joke.

Well there is good news. My union hall has been calling out for the job at the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant starting yesterday and will continue every week. They didn’t reach my number yet (number 224 in the book), but they should get there in the next two weeks. The unemployment blues could soon be over.