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Despite warnings, some laid off state employees still working from home

MinnPost photo by Terry Gydesen

More than 100 state employees shared their experiences of the looming shutdown through The Intelligencer’s crowdsourcing efforts. Yesterday, we heard from some of those workers again. Most were among the 22,000 who have been laid off. Others, still employed, spoke of survivor’s guilt.

I’ve been asking these people if they brought any work home with them. Most were told there would be consequences for working, even from home, during the shutdown.

Some are too angry to work anyways, others fear a rush to catch up once the shutdown has finally ended and they’re doing what they can while waiting for that first unemployment check.

If you are a state employee who has not added your voice, you can do so using this simple and secure form.

Here is how some laid off state workers responded when I asked them if they were still doing some of their work quietly from home.

A note about the identity of state employee sources: MinnPost has a detailed database of information on all state employees and we are using it to confirm the identities of the people who contact us through the crowdsourcing form. When an employee does not provide a full name and contact information, we do not publish the employee’s comments.

On working from home

“We are not allowed to perform any of our work duties. Our instructions from our agency indicated there could be personal legal consequences for us to do so.”  — Laid off Department of Health employee

“I brought some work home — but haven’t started it. Frankly, as time goes on, I get more and more angry and less willing to stay on top of things. Most of our projects are construction related. It will be interesting to see how the post-shutdown restart of the projects works out. I’m thinking we will see requests for extensions of time and recalculation of costs based on the change in schedule. This won’t be cheap and the additional work to modify the agreements will take lots of time.”  — Laid off Department of Transportation employee

“Heck no! I contemplated it for a while, but why should I?  I did work my butt off preparing for this shutdown. You see, we want to work for Minnesota.”  — Laid off Department of Transportation employee

“Many of us have been told point blank that if we do any work while laid off we will be at least reprimanded or at worst, terminated upon our return. I worry about my clientele. Our email is not available. We were to turn in our work cell phones and office keys, so I do not have access to any of my folks. When I return to my office my time will be spent dealing with putting out fires.” — Laid off Department of Employment and Economic Development employee

“Some of us checked into volunteer options at our agencies, but under the circumstances it potentially causes more problems than it is worth.” — Laid off Minnesota Management and Budget employee

“We were told not to because we would be disciplined. I think about my work and how I became a public servant because I believe in helping as many people as possible on a statewide level. It is frustrating knowing that school districts, parents, and advocates are not able to access our services.”  — Laid off Department of Education employee

“I supervise a team with some employees who wanted to stay in touch during the shutdown.  I use our email list to communicate what I know to them, to let them know how much our agency values our work, and to set up lunches and other social events so we can keep our relationships strong.” — Laid off Department of Employment and Economic Development employee

“I actually considered doing some organizing work at home, just because I know what a nightmare rush it will be when we return; however, the way they are treating us and all Minnesotans — like their platforms matter more than people — I decided not to do anything.  When I return, I’ll do my best to catch up.”  — Laid off Department of Education employee

“I have a very large project that I started a month or so ago and I would love to have it finished before we go back. I don’t need to use any state resources to work on it — I have everything I need at home. I think there are many people in my office who are probably doing the same thing. We have been getting so far behind because of retirements and downsizing. This time at home is giving a lot of us a chance to get caught up before we go back. I work with a lot of very dedicated people and we all love what we do. Believe it or not, most state workers take pride in their work.” — Laid off Department of Transportation employee

“I really want to, but I can’t.” — Laid off Department of Transportation employee

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Alicia DeMatteo on 07/13/2011 - 12:47 pm.

    Thanks for aggregating and sharing these. It’s endearing and heartbreaking at the same time to hear these employees speak out on their predicament and how much they’d love to get back to work for MN. It’s a great reminder of all the wonderful people we don’t normally think about who work tirelessly for our state.

  2. Submitted by will lynott on 07/13/2011 - 09:38 pm.

    I hope they’re not working from home. State workers currently are laid off, meaning their state jobs don’t exist. The state has rightly warned them not to do state work during the shutdown because they are currently not authorized to act on the state’s behalf.

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