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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



There's no getting used to it

My brother, who works for the company that makes film in little yellow boxes that you don’t buy anymore, says that after 18 or so rounds you get used to the threat of layoffs hanging over your head.

I have trouble believing that. I have just been through my third round of layoffs in less than a year. I don’t see getting used to it.

I have watched co-workers walk out the door — good people whose work and friendship I’ve enjoyed over the years — laden down with the news that they no longer have a job, a career, a livelihood. My mind flips through what I know about that person and what it will be like for them. It breaks my heart.

Just the specter of layoffs hanging overhead changes a lot of things, casting a shadow on virtually every thought and decision you make.

When the eye doctor told me recently that I have encroaching cataracts (yeah, I know I’m too young – he thought so too), my first thought was whether I would have health insurance when the time comes for surgery.

At a recent family gathering, we were asked if we had any trips planned. It depends, we replied. Everything suddenly depends.

Wednesday, on the eve of our latest layoffs, I was reporting a story on the lottery and bought my first-ever lottery ticket. Sadly, I didn’t win, but I had a new understanding of why people put their hopes in that basket.

I survived this round of layoffs, nicked but still standing. I feel no cause for celebration, though. I am watching as my profession of 23 years is dismantled, employee by employee. I am haunted by the image of the backs of my co-workers who walked out the door for the last time.

I don’t see myself ever getting used to it.

- Terri Hallenbeck

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Hang in there Terri.
Ever thinking of teaching Terri? They are still hiring and giving pay raises.
Support single payer universal health care. No reason in the world health care should be contingent on employment. Problem solved
I sympathize with you Terri- it isn't a good feeling. Unfortunately the VT Legislature doesn't feel the same pain as you do or they would not be passing tax hikes and trying to make it more difficult to own, operate or even work in a business in VT. Same is true on the national level, Obama is trying to emulate Jimmy Carter and you wait and see if we don't get 10 1/2% unemployment and 18% interest rates by printing more money just to pay our interest.
But- health care will be FREE!
gas will be $5.00/gal; electricity will be $25/kwh
Glad to hear that you're still among the standing, although that never diminishes the sympathy you'll feel for the others.

While I said you eventually get used to having the threat of lay-offs hanging over your workplace, I realize that I never get used to, or callous to, the impact on my friends and co-workers who are let go. What I do feel accustomed to is fact that the business I'm currently in will eventually shrivel up to nothing.

It's important for me to distinguish between a job and a career. My current job may disappear someday, but I will continue working in some field that uses my talents, experience and interests. I may not know what that next job will be yet, but I trust it will become more clear when that time comes. My faith no doubt helps me to view things from a more long-distance (or eternal) perspective. Sometimes I smile when I think about what impact today's events will have on me 100 years from now. Usually the day-to-day job issues seem negligible from that viewpoint.

You and your co-workers are very talented. The print journalism business may be shriveling, but that business should never be what defines you. You could all put your talents and experiences to work elsewhere and perhaps even thrive there.

your bro from ny who still puts film in little yellow boxes (just not as much of it, though), Bruce

There you go again...

It's always that damn legislature, isn't it.

You probably say think the legislature is at fault for Act 68 and rising property taxes - I've got news for you --- Act 68 was the Governor's and Walt Freed's House majority's plan!
Just for the record, there were dramatic reductions in the federal deficit during the Carter administration.
I’ve been through that process, first by watching round-after-round of layoffs, and then finally taking the hit myself after 14 years. It’s never easy to watch, and it hurts even more when the HR person coldly shoves separation papers across the table, but life goes on. I handled it by knowing that the company didn’t have any real emotions, and neither did family that owned it. Everybody that worked there had ample reason to prepare an exit strategy, and to have back-up plans ready to spring into action. Mine had been ready for years, with an always updated departure check-list in the bottom drawer of my desk. It’s a crappy way to live, and certainly takes some of the enjoyment out of a job, but reality is reality. Have a plan, and be ready to execute it, and encourage your co-workers to do the same. And never believe the company cares about you as a person. They don’t.

It's clear you are a GOP mouthpiece, it's always those other guys that caused the problem.

I'm sure your answer to everything is tax cuts for the wealthy!

That worked real well over the previous 8 years.
First of all, I think tax cuts for the workers should have come first and that would have given extra money for 80% of employees to enable them to spend immediately. Instead, we spend more money on stimulus that only reaches 10% of the population. In February, Obama, Leahy, Sanders and Welch all stated the stimulus had to be passed immediately or the unemployment would reach 8%- guess what- it is over 9% and growing! The same statement, our delegation said the stimulus would add 8500 jobs in VT- since then we have lost 2500 so far these clueless politicians have been off by 11,000 jobs.
Now that Obama's stimulus isn't working we can blame Bush on the "economy was worse that we thought". Obama has the largest economic team ever assembled in Wash and they can't figure it out!! Biden was right- they don't have a clue.
Bush is responsible so why should he not get the blame. Eight years of irresponsible spending on a gratuitous war and a failure to reign in the greed of Wall Street have caused the situation Obama has facing him. Sic months is hardly enough time to correct the disaster Bush and Company have created.
It's clear that nek's thought will be his first.
Those of you with "recession proof" jobs or "trust fund" incomes have absolutely no compassion for the working Vermonter or the retirees trying to make it in Vermont. Your ideological utopia will eventually bankrupt Vermont- just look at California- your ideas are no different!
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