I learned this morning that a New York State program being run by the County where I work is being outsourced. This is a State program that NY pays the county to administer. NY pays to administer the mandated program, but it costs the county a little more than the state pays. The department is staffed by county employees, which are marginally more expensive than non-union clerical staff and many will eventually retire on county funded pensions, so this program is a net expense to the county.
One of my jobs has been to do technical support for this program. I maintain the program releases and configure PCs. It is one of my “lesser and related duties” as it does not require programming on my part. I install and configure software, backup databases and act as chief cook and bottle washer for anything that involves database, network or programs. It is NOT programming, which I consider my profession, but I don’t mind much working on the system.
In the course of doing this work I have made some friends. I feel like Norm in the TV show Cheers. Everyone knows my name and they all say “hello Keith” as I walk down through the cubicles looking for a PC that has gone rogue. I feel that this department is as much a home as I’ve got working for Westchester.
All of these people just got their layoff notices. The county has notified the state that they have to find someone else to do the work. My job now is to watch the databases and try to prevent sabotage. I am being asked to facilitate the change, but this feels like I am betraying my friends.
A very few of these people might be able to fill vacancies in other departments. A small number will be hired for the out-sourcing company that will take over the operations, but at low pay and probably without benefits. The majority will have to try to find new jobs in the public sector, and most will never have as good a job ever again.
Things seem to be turning around in the economy. It is too late to prevent this kind of thing. Perhaps this fine-tuning of budgets is a good thing for the public in general. I feel sick, though, about my friends all being laid off in just time for the holidays.