31

I work for a State Government, doing acquisition of property for public projects. We essentially get assigned "parcels", and have what is referred to as a LET date, where we need to acquire everything. Each one of us is paid the same (extremely low market rate) salary, and I've been here 4 years, 2 years less than one coworker, and 1.5 years more than the other. I'm the youngest in the office by 15 years.

Basically, my boss has this history of assigning me twice the number of parcels as the other two (current project is 60, versus 32 and 24). It's nothing against them, but I get hit harder than anyone else (as well as having several other obligations that the other coworkers don't have, and prefer not to do). I can't get a raise because they basically have frozen our salaries except for across the board raises that come from the Legislature. In the 4 years I've been here, my salary has only gone up 8.5%, and 5% of that was just in November when a salary study showed we lagged behind 20% other localities starting salaries. Now, it turns out a Utility company flubbed the plans, and I'm having to go back and redo 25% of my workload (mine were the only ones affected), and am being asked to do it in 2 months. My boss won't give some of them to the other two. We're supposed to have 2 years to complete a project, we only had 1 year to complete this one, and now I'm being required to redo a huge portion of my work with land owners that are already a little irritated at me. I bust my butt to do right by the property owners, but because of the position I'm put in, I understand 100% them not always being "fond" of me.

I've been really tempted to tell my boss where to go with this, but I want to be professional. I have also taken it upon myself to make my coworkers feel appreciated in little ways, since our management and boss doesn't seem to get the hint that it's their responsibility. I had talked to him briefly about the unevenness, and he said, "Life's not fair, Rob." We also work in a filthy, roach infested building, because the state saw they could save some money by selling the old place and moving us to an old oil building. I've literally had a roach crawl into my underwear while sitting on the toilet.

So, while tempted to be immature and unprofessional towards him, or aching to be passive aggressive, I know that's not the answer. How should I handle approaching this? I'm trying to get out of here and find another job (and get back to my home state), but I keep running into roadblocks.

closed as off-topic by Dukeling, Philipp, gnat, Erik, mxyzplk Feb 16 '18 at 3:52

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    Possible duplicate of How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid? – Dukeling Feb 14 '18 at 15:08
  • 1
    As to the "I'm trying to get out of here and find another job (and get back to my home state), but I keep running into roadblocks" part, tell us briefly what those are, if they affect the context here (i.e. they make quitting not an attractive option right now) – smci Feb 15 '18 at 12:32
  • @Dukeling: this is not a duplicate of a question about salary in the private sector. In the public sector coworkers' job security is higher, they won't leave or be fired (or be promoted!), and the OP said quitting is not an option for them right now. Hence the only variable in this situation is the amount of work the OP does/ doesn't do, and how they handle that with boss. – smci Feb 19 '18 at 0:41
107

a salary study showed we lagged behind 20% other localities starting salaries

This is simple, the real answer is you need to get your resume prepared, find another job, and then leave your current employer. Based on my experience, the government sector has never paid what the private sector will for comparable skills. Also, most governments lag behind regarding the use of current technologies.

If you are really getting paid 20% under market value, realistically you don't have a choice, unless you're willing to work that far under market value and hope they create a new higher paying title for you.

In the meantime, do your job to the best of your ability while looking, then serve your notice period and move on. If your objective is to be paid market value, it is the only real answer.

"Life's not fair, Rob."

Your manager is right about this, I suggest you take the decision out of their hands.

  • 78
    And when you quit and he asks you what he's going to do about the extra workload you just dropped in his lap, remember to think "Life's not fair, boss", but don't say it. – Richard Feb 14 '18 at 19:17
  • 40
    @Richard I would be so tempted to say it.... – Mister Positive Feb 14 '18 at 19:29
  • 25
    Only if you need a reference from them. If that's not the case, then not only say it, but finish it off with finger guns as you leave – Richard Feb 14 '18 at 20:02
  • 12
    @Richard 100% say it. Mention the workload too. Make sure your boss knows why you're leaving. – user53651 Feb 14 '18 at 23:16
  • 1
    @Chris It is the real answer. And I did not say quit your job. I said find another job first, then give your notice. QUITTING is almost never the answer. – Mister Positive Feb 15 '18 at 10:59
37

Since you're with the state and under budgetary constraints and locked in pay grades for your title, the only way for you to address this is with a title change. Each state has a list of job titles.

NJ for example

http://www.state.nj.us/csc/seekers/jobs/title/

research a job title that fits your roles but pays more and ask what would need to be done to create a new title for you.

Another thing to consider, being a public worker doesn't mean you have to work in unsanitary, roach-infested conditions. You are covered by PEOSHA

While public workers are not covered by OSHA, they are by PEOSHA. You can file a complaint if you like.

Also, research your own title. If you are working out of title, you may be due compensation or even a title change. Again, check your title's duties and those related.

  • 2
    @Llopis the querent IS in the USA, which is clearly recognizable to anyone who has ever worked for any government entity in the USA. – Retired Codger Feb 15 '18 at 14:16
  • I was asking if you could write some more sentences for other people looking for an answer in other countries. I think your answer is a good one but could be better for a wider public. Have a good day – llrs Feb 15 '18 at 16:42
  • +1 I knew someone would know what to do about the roach issue. – Pharap Feb 15 '18 at 18:07
  • @TheSnarkKnight You don't believe any other countries have inefficient government organizations? – immibis Feb 16 '18 at 3:03
  • @immibis perhaps you'd like to contribute an answer of your own? – Retired Codger Feb 16 '18 at 11:30
21

It is also hard to get fired from a State Government job.

Tell him flat out you cannot get the work done in that amount of time. If he tries to fire you or put you on a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) he will (well should) have to prove you are under performing and compared to your peers you are not under performing.

  • 6
    "It is also hard to get fired from a State Government job." Some federal governments, on the other hand? Revolving doors! – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 14 '18 at 19:08
  • 2
    Yep, the last time I worked for a State Government they had a lot of fossils.... – Mister Positive Feb 15 '18 at 12:29
15

Look up, not down

So Mister Positive has a very good answer of "go get a new job." Its positivity may be dubious, but never forget that that is the one power an employee always has over their employer.

Now if that isn't the answer you are looking for, look up. Look at what other people are trying to do, and how you might be able to help them do it.

Have you looked at why you get handed 60 parcels, while the others are handed 30? Your boss was right when he said it's not about fairness. Your boss has a job to do, and employees to do it with, and they are allocating resources as best as they can. You have demonstrated the competency it takes to handle 60 parcels. Your coworkers have demonstrated the competency to handle 30. If I was the boss, and I had to divvy up 120 parcels, I wouldn't divvy it up 40, 40, 40. Why? Because I know two employees won't perform to that level. I'll have jobs that didn't get done, and I'll have to be reporting up the chain why my team is behind schedule.

So, assuming you keep the job, you should expect to be shouldering 50% of the work when you represent 50% of the useful capability. Simple as that.

Now I can see why you don't like this, and why you want it to change. The trick is that you have to do it the right way. You can't just ask your boss to do less work, because the work needs to get done, and his team can't pick up the slack. He simply won't go for it.

The trick is to be interested in your boss' job. Start developing an interest in how these parcels come down the chain. How the deadlines are set. How the funding is managed. Look for ways to make your boss' job easier... that just happen to also involve you doing a smaller number of parcels.

You can always just leave, but if you want to fix the situation within your current employer's environment, that's how you do it. You give your boss the opportunity to make their life easier, in a way which conveniently makes your life better as well, and then you let your boss take it and run with it. You also should be able to figure out rather quickly whether they are grooming you to take over that management position or not. If they're open with the details, they probably want to promote you, and you just have to show that you're ready for it. If they're very closed and refuse to let you in on anything that matters, then they may just be taking advantage of you.

Remember, salary isn't everything. It's important, don't get me wrong. You can't ignore salary. But there's a lot more to a job that you want to wake up in the morning for. Most of those things are not measured in dollars.

1

Do you get paid for parcels, or for days/hours worked?

I assume you get paid for days/hours worked, so you work the same as your coworkers. Only you are efficient, they are not, and your boss is doing his best to make sure you stop being efficient, for his own reasons.

Your choices are to stop being efficient, to go work somewhere where efficiency is valued, or to kick up a fuss by either involving the boss' boss, a politician, or the local press. I advise against the "kick up a fuss" approach, unless you want to do it after switching to a different employer.

-3

"Life isn't fair", they say? It actually is. Those who can't stand up for themselves deserve to suffer for that.

Of course, you can quit and tell your boss where to go as another answer suggests. You always have that option. But did you really exhaust all better options that are available to you? You sound like you don't really mind the job, just are utterly undercompensated for it. Then quitting would be a lose-lose situation -- a loss of a secure position for you and of a valuable employee for your boss.

From the sound of your post, your boss really needs you to handle the workload. That's your leverage. "I can only wonder what you're going to do with the workload if I quit. So, let's try and work something out before I have to resort to that."

That's the key: assert your interests while being open to negotiations.

Give him some options from the other answers as an example to show that you're not demanding something that's totally legally impossible. Offer to split the work of researching the available options (the tasks that don't require his powers so that you can do them, too) -- noting that due to the time needed, it'll take from your other work (from the sound of it, he really can't afford this at the moment, so he's going to decline that offer). Agree on some timeframe to come up with some results to share and decide what to do next.

In the meantime, start exploring other job options non-actively -- increasing the activity with time and if he tries to stall. The idea is to give him a reasonable amount of time to find a solution (reasonable for you -- e.g. it may honestly take a year in your bureaucracy but you're probably not okay with waiting that long) while keeping him motivated and having your own solution ready if he ultimately fails to provide.

  • 8
    “Those who can't stand up for themselves deserve to suffer for that.” — That’s a terrible, demeaning, inhumane attitude. – Konrad Rudolph Feb 15 '18 at 12:28
  • 4
    @KonradRudolph But it's you, not someone else, who's responsible for your life achievements. If you aren't going to work towards your needs, why anyone else should? You don't have to necessarily do it all by yourself, that's specifically what regulations, social security, rights organizations, courts etc are for. In many cases, they even do work without you needing to get involved personally. But in the end, it's still you, you're just delegating that work to the facilities that you and others (including your predecessors) created specifically to delegate that work to. – ivan_pozdeev Feb 15 '18 at 12:40
  • "If you aren't going to work towards your needs, why anyone else should?" is not an either-or choice. A society where everybody works towards each others needs, in addition to looking after themselves first but not exclusively, is generally a much much nicer society to live in. Or to put it another way, here company's needs (having OP work there) seem compatible with OP's needs (getting a pay level they are happy with), and both will lose if the boss doesn't look after OPs needs too. – hyde Feb 15 '18 at 12:44
  • 1
    @hyde did you miss the "can delegate" part? That's what democracy is all about. But you still have to get involved personally when others fail to protect your interests for you automatically. That's the OP's situation. – ivan_pozdeev Feb 15 '18 at 12:45
  • @KonradRudolph It's also pretty hard to deny. – immibis Feb 18 '18 at 20:44

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.