Just something I wanted to get off my chest here. For the past 3 1/2 years I’ve worked for the Unemployment Department for the State of Illinois (a.k.a. IDES). This has been probably one of the biggest milestone achievements in my life as this was my first real-world, full-time job out after working part time for the first 3 years out of college.
I’ve always been told by my fellow co-workers and others who work in similar environments that specifically working in this department was as secure as possible given the nature of what we do: Assisting former workers and part-time workers who need Unemployment benefits after losing their jobs. It’s like, (and I’m
poorly remembering the actual saying paraphrasing here) “It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.” Nobody wants to be the crime scene cleanup guy, or the bill collector, or Donald Trump’s toupee washer, but if nobody does it, who will? That’s kinda how working at IDES has been… we have to talk to and deal with people in probably the toughest times of their lives… losing their jobs and hoping this money we give them gets them by until the next job comes in. Now, some days are good and some days are bad, but it’s a job that I love to do and has given Jaime and I a lot of luxuries we couldn’t have before IDES.
But, for the past 4 months.. The security blanket of doing the “dirty work” may be slipping away.
October 2012 – IDES indefinitely “non-schedules” around 200 intermittent employees at various offices throughout the state. Intermittent was my previous job status before I accepted the current permanent position I have now. They are still full time employees, just that they are paid hourly instead of salary. But they can be non-scheduled if they work a certain number of hours in a year period. This time, the state indefinitely removed all intermittent employees with no inclination as to possibly returning. Essentially, they were laid off.
The Aftermath – With the depletion of the intermittent staff, local offices have been swamped with handling more and more claimants with fewer and fewer permanent employees to take it on. The results? Claimants are waiting hours for help at their local offices.
Where I work, our jobs are to take calls on behalf of the local offices who can’t handle all the people in the office plus thousands of calls per day. So with fewer people getting help in person, my position seems more secure.
January 2013 – IDES announces that due to cuts in Federal spending, 7 offices and 192 positions would be eliminated. This was probably the worst news I’ve gotten since joining the department. The thought that my job might be eliminated was terrifying. Jaime had been at her job as a full time employee for almost a year, so to have my paycheck be taken away and effectively getting cut in half for 6 months of unemployment benefits would cripple our current lifestyle. This does not go over well when I bring it up 2 days after I get the notice.
Present Day – Update! So we finally get a date when all this might go down. All I’ll say here is that it could start sooner than we thought. But as I’ve been talking with fellow peers and others… I’ve decided to jump in the Glass Half Full group for a few reasons.
#1 – My theory is that IDES may be trying to go away from the in-person Local Office format to an all digital/call center setting. Saves the state money in operating physical locations and all the upkeep costs associated.
#2 – Going along with the previous point, the call centers are probably the most secure places in the agency and I’m at one of just 2 in the state. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want to lose the frontline workers who might just be the only reliable way any claimant can contact for help.
#3 – Prayer (might as well ask for all the help I can get right?)
So to wrap all this up, I really really like my job. For the work, for the money, for the ability to provide for my family… For something to freaking do! I am really just hoping and praying that my job is secure and I can continue to help the people of Illinois and the whole country (yes, people who worked here but live in other states count!)
Stay tuned for more updates. Does anyone else have any job loss stories they want to share? Throw em in the comments!