A plea for help from the Gate.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

I work at the Gate. I’ve worked there for two years and will do so until I graduate. I like it there, I like the people and until this semester my job has been very convenient. This semester, however, has been tough. Open hours were extended until 2 a.m., keeping workers there until 2:30 for closing. Most see this either as a convenience or as a mundane matter, but it is neither for those who fill these hours.

On weekdays few come in after 1, so it seems that the added hour has been of little benefit. On the weekends people take advantage of the time in droves, but many are an hour drunker than before. Therefore they leave enormous or disgusting messes (feces and vomit at Jo’s), fling abuse or water or are impossible to deal with.

The labor situation is similarly bleak. The extension of hours and the creation of new shifts to meet those hours resulted in a major labor shortage. The closing shifts, with the dirty work and a 2:30 a.m. departure, which we have struggled to make safe, take the hit. With a dip in conditions and morale and no extra compensation, it’s simply not worth it for student workers to take a closing shift, and most don’t.

Still the Gate has remained open until 2 every night. Why? Some people have picked up later shifts, but several shifts began the year with no workers, and all remain understaffed. The final hours have mostly been staffed thus far by unscheduled workers who come in on their nights off.

I am such an employee, and I write on my only night off in two weeks. I work double shifts many nights, cutting sharply into the time that I have to sleep, study and chill. Do I get paid for it? Yes. And I need the money. The question is: Why work an understaffed late shift, when given a choice?

I speak only for my own motives, but I know I share them with others. I work the late shifts because somebody has to do it, and because I care. I work the late shifts because I believe my efforts will help everyone get home sooner. I’m not saying I’m a good person; I’m saying we need help.

I work the late shifts for my friends and fellow workers, because I don’t want them to get screwed by having to stay there until 3 when there is no help. I work the late shifts for my supervisors who have to be there.

One of my supervisors began the year with two closing shifts and one worker. They need my help, so I give it.

But the person who needs help most is our unit manager, Clair McClung. As unit manager, Clair has to beg people to work. Failing that, she is required to come in and do the job herself whenever there aren’t enough people, receiving no pay above her salary. In the first weeks of school, that meant that she was at the Gate almost every night until nearly 3 a.m. for free. She didn’t sign up for that, and yet she doesn’t complain. But she suffers for a mistake that was not made by her, and that has to stop.

It is obvious to every student worker that the extra hour is bad. A thing I value greatly is the ability to recognize, admit and correct a mistake. Therefore I beseech UCS: for myself, for my colleagues, for my friends, and especially for Clair, please take this burden from our shoulders.

Aaron Fritschner ’06 works hard for the money, so hard for you, honey.