Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ah, griping.

We're considering going on strike at work. My department--Technical Services--consists of five people plus the boss, and we are a hub of expertise, client contact, and general figuring-out-how-to-do-things...ness. We are not actually going to strike, but we are irritated, and we are more and more frequently gathering in a knot between MH's cubicle and mine to gripe.

A is our chemistry specialist; not only does she do her job, but she's more or less a supervisor of the actual chemistry department, which is not her responsibility except that the technicians come to her because (a) she knows more and (b) she is more responsive than the chemistry supervisors. MH and I do toxicology. K tends to most projects coming in and checks them for paperwork, to make sure we can do the work, etc. J came to us from the prep room, which is a subdepartment more or less belonging to us, and was meant to be a sort of junior specialist (assistant, working her way up to full specialist) but, since the other prep person is completely unwilling to entertain a partner other than J and has actually chased off a previous employee, and can't handle the work alone, J has been sent back to fill in for prep until we find someone the other prep person can tolerate (or our boss bites the bullet and yells at her to knock it off).

We've recently been asked to (a) start writing special protocols, (b) check certain types of projects coming in for completeness and follow up with clients, and (c) follow up with clients after we've dispensed our expertise to them. None of this is in our job description, and the last one is permanent (so fine, except that I don't like it) but the other two we were told would be temporary, but there are indications that the boss's boss considers us permanent. We also field questions from the labs and from clients' clients and regulatory bodies, help another department with their trainees, collect information, do work for the sales reps that they ought to be doing, and generally fill in a lot of little jobs that nobody else will take responsibility for. Plus with J gone, we're doing all the little things she would otherwise be responsible for (and would in fact prefer to the prep room).

The sales reps get bonuses based on the work we get from their various territories. My department gets none. This actually means that when we help our clients and net big projects, we're supplying the sales reps' bonuses. It's especially hard on MH because he used to be a sales rep. He seems to feel that not being on the road half the time is worth the pay cut, but he, like the rest of us, would like to think that when we're supplying clients with information and telling them exactly what they need to do, explaining how and why, and helping them through the process of getting their stuff in to us, we're not just doing it to enrich the people who keep sending us e-mail saying "I'm out of town, need you to do this. Send paperwork too" and "I got behind, is there anyway (sic) you can handle this?" and "I don't know what this client wants, can you find out?"