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Old 30th September 2002, 11:32 PM   #1
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I need advice

I work in TV as a Photographer and just over the last couple of days a series of events unfolded and now just have stuff on my mind and is getting me down and just need some advice. I'll write this out in the order the events happened.

I've been working at the current station for almost 3 and a half years, since then I've done whatever I could to do the best I could do and be the best. I always tried to be dedicated to the job, always going out on calls, filling in when needed, and going above and beyond the help with whatever.

I take time to learn, take time to teach. I have the willingness to learn anything if they need me to and there's a lot I know about and a lot I can do.

Well, a while back a policy was created - in part of one of our laziest staffed photographer complaining about being on-call - that rotated on-call schedule. Well, before this I always took home my car and gear, even when off-call. I didn't take the gear and car home for personal use, in fact I never used either when off the clock.

I simply did so because I have the contacts and resources that if breaking news happened, I would be able to respond quickly and promptly. You see, many of the photographers I worked with hated getting called out and as a result they would refuse to and complain and in the long run I ended up getting called out.

So taking home the car and gear was nothing, and for like a year nobody every said anything nor even cared because I often times was able to obtain stuff for our newscast by doing so.

Well when the policy was created, even though I knew of it's existances, I continued what I always did by taking home car and gear. As a result, I would always listen to my scanners when at home and would respond if someone contacted me.

Again, did this for a few months and nobody every had said anything and I knew that even though it was a policy I was doing something for the betterment of our station.

Well recently I had the car and gear, and of course, something was in my car that someone had needed and when my Assignment Manager found out about it she ran to my boss telling my boss I was taking home car and gear when not on call.

So this led to my boss writting me up saying next time I would be suspended or threatened. In many ways this upsetted me. I will admit that I knew sucha policy existed and I didn't follow it 100% but guess I never thought anything of it because I was only doing so to be able to get breaking news if it were to happen.

I became upset because there is another guy that takes home his car and gear every single day like I did and he uses the company as his own personal car and my assignment editor knows about it and she never mentioned anything to the boss. i felt I was singled out.

I felt me being written up was unjustified. So upon being written up, I wrote up a rebuttal basically saying I felt it was wrong. You see, our Assignement Manager and my Boss basically sets out to upset people and will write you up for anything, they make it a hostile work situation for everyone and people break contracts all the time to get out of there because of it.

So since that happened, I've been extremely upset and mad and on the verge of wanting to quit and find another job because I know I'm not apprecaited nor the work I do is apprecaited by my boss.

Well, shortly before that I was asked to move in and be roomies with a co-worker. I want to, and I said I would but now and gaining second thoughts and not sure what I am going to do about that.

Then I tell this girl I like, after I thought she felt the same way about me, that I like her more than a friend and she tells me she wasn't expecting that and she didn't know what to say and that she didn't like me no more than a friend... blahy blah blah. So that put me down even more. Then find out that this job I applied for and wanted went to some guy only because his friend wanted the job.

I'm very unhappy right now, I hate my job, I am not motivated and not sure what to do. I know this is long, but it's like so much stuff and it came all at once. I need adivce.
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Old 1st October 2002, 12:56 AM   #2
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You don't need advice, you need some time....

A lot is happening now so just take time out for a breather. No matter what television station you work at, staff members change fairly often. You could start working at another station for another assignment editor and in no time that editor would be replaced by a bxtch worse than you work for now.

The best thing you can do is play by the rules and do your job. Don't let them think they are getting to you.

Whether or not you move in with fellow staff members is your call.

I remember your post about six months ago regarding the station's insistence that you take a night call, even though the guy who was on-call just didn't want to go. That's a lot of crap.

Don't take the company vehicle home anymore unless you are on call or asked to and DON'T answer your telephone at night when you aren't on call. Get caller ID if they have it in your area.

The people at your station are a bunch of ungrateful bxstards but they don't have the exclusive franchise. They are can't get away from them.
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Old 1st October 2002, 1:15 AM   #3
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Thanks tony...

Thanks for your advice, you're absolutely right.. so much has just came about so quickly and so suddenly it's to the point I feel like I'm going to explode and it's just brining me down.

I've done realized that the station isn't worth my time, they have shown and proven to me that they do not value their employee's regardless of what we do to help them out.

Tell me if I'm going to far with this and offer me your advice. My management can't schedule people right, so therefore I am stuck doing the job of the studio camera op by running the camera. Not a big deal, but my schedule says I'm off the clock at 6:00 and of course our newscast doesn't go off till about 6:30, therefore I don't get out until 6:45 every night and therefore I am staying 45 extra minutes in which is 45 minutes of my personal time.

I didn't mind so much before, but after recent events I'm starting to wonder if it's right for them to make me stay late every night because of their screw up. I wonder, should I always tell them "hey, I can run a camera at 5 but according to the schedule I am off the clock as well as off-call..".

Would I be going to far by doing that or do I have the right to protect my personal time?
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Old 1st October 2002, 5:54 AM   #4
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Federal Law, under the National Labor Relations Board, requires that all hours required to be worked by an employee be paid if that employee is an hourly wage earner. The law is slightly different if the person is a salaried employee.

I think you have been abused sufficiently to have grounds for a very serious lawsuit, however, and I would see an attorney. You should also ask an attorney about the hourly thing as well. Find out if you are considered an hourly employee on a salaried one by the station.

While many stations have their news people on salary, what they are asking you to do by operating a studio camera does not fall within your duties in the news department. So even if you are a salaried employee, that would only pertain to your duties in the news department. They cannot abuse workers by having them do all kinds of other crap in the station as they wish.

Do not go to an attorney in your town if it's small. You haven't said but it sounds like you work in a small hick town and it's likely there is a good ole boy network going and anything you talk to an attorney about would get back to the station (even though a relationship between attorney and client is supposed to be priviledged.) You make the decision but I think I would consult with a legal counsellor in the next big town over myself.

They are using you and abusing not only you but the labor laws of the United States of America. Ultimately, you could cause them to get their license to operate revoked by the Federal Communications Commission.

Go after them...if you don't stand up for yourself, who will?

You should be keeping a daily log of exactly the date and times you are required to work outside the newsroom for purposes of an eventual lawsuit.

Don't say a word to anybody until you have consulted with an attorney. Keep your mouth shut, even to your best buddy at the station!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 1st October 2002, 9:30 AM   #5
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Thanks for the advice. Yes I an hourly wage and whenever I do stay the extra 45 minuts I do get paid, but that isn't the point. The point is now it's making me stay late, getting out no earlier than 6:45 rather than 6:00 when my schedule has me off.

Here's the catch, and I realize probably a mistake on my end. When I became full-time we were told that we would have to be "News Assistants" every now and then beause they're cutting back, BUT.. at the time I didn't realize they was talking about every single day and to the point it would be forcing me to work when I'm not on the clock.

And now they're using us Photographers as on-call studio camera operators, meaning that if someone on the morning show calls in sick they actually call in a photographer to do the job rather than another news assistant.

Here is my whole point, being a news assistant and photographer is two different job titles and if they want me to both then they should pay me two different wages.

I started out at the station 3.5 years ago as a news assistant, back then they never used photographers to run studio camera or fill in. In fact, if a news assistant called in sick they would call in another news assistant.

I hated being a news assistant, I hated running cameras down in the studio badly and that's why I became a photographer was to get out. But like a year after I became a photographer they started the bright idea of just using us to do the job of a news assistant.

And the other thing is if I'm going to start having to do news assistant duties, than wouldn't it only be fair if we start having news assistant do photographer duties? I can do their job, but they can't do mine and use to that was why we were never called in to run camera's. But that changed.

I had mentioned several times that being a news assistant is going outside my job duties, but the main anchor is like "But joe.. we're all news assistants.. blah blah" and I get portrayed as a whinner.

The whole thing is I absolutely hate running studio camera's. I hate it whole-heartedly and to the point that it actually puts me in a horrible mood. I'm hate being in the studio doing someone else's job after I just spent 8 hours doing my own job, and then on top of that I am staying 45 minutes late, cause I'm scheduled off at 6 but am there till 6:45.

I'll talk to an attorney, my town isn't that small it's about 25,000 people so I doubt word would get back to them and find out.

So I just figured this week I'm off-call on top of being off at 6, and since they were so uptight about me taking home car and gear when off-call and got written up for it, I'll just say "hey, I'll run camera's at 5 but I'm off at 6 and not on-call."
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Old 1st October 2002, 11:36 AM   #6
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25,000 IS small!

take Tony's advice and go to a neighboring town (i.e. a bigger neighboring town) to seek legal representation. You should know by now that news people are the biggest gossips because they've got a very broad base of sources, whether they work in a small community, a large community or someplace in-between!

don't let them take advantage of your goodwill -- it's so easy to be amenable when you start out working for the media, but your editors will take advantage of that if you're not careful and you easily get burned out, whether it's workign for a news station or a newspaper.
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Old 1st October 2002, 10:01 PM   #7
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So I get back in after being out in the field all day and my Assignement Editor says to me that I got to stay and run camera's. I say to her "that's fine, I can do it for 5 but I am off the clock at 6 and I'm not on-call and I have someone coming to pick me up".

She shoots back to me "there's no choice, you must stay.. they'll just have to wait for you". I say "That's too bad, going by my schedule I am off the clock and I'm not going to have them wait no 30 minutes". At this point I walk out of the newsroom and she follows me.

She says to me "there is no choice, you're staying and can't leave" I say to her "how can you possibly tell me that I can't leave, that's no different than placing someone in a room and locking the door saying they can't leave. No, I DON'T have to stay"

She starts in saying some crap and I'm not listening to her but I tell her "I'm a photographer, I'm not a News Assistant" and she says that's bull.. I fill in whenever I am needed and I tell her "yes.. when I'm actually on the clock"

She shoots back that she had no choice cause the other two photogs are out and about and I say "well nice, there are several other people in the building that can do it"

So she basically says that what she says goes and if she says I must stay I must. I stood my ground and I did raise my voice at her and she walks out.

She then goes to the News Director, my boss, and tells her what happened so we're all called into her office and I explain to her the situation. My ND, of course, sides with my Assignement Editor saying part of my job is to fill in and blah blah blah.

So I told them I quit, my Assignement Editor walks out, and my ND and I continue talking and I basically point out "it's one thing to ask someone to stay late to help out, but to demand that they do so and says that's just to bad in a hateful voice isn't acceptable and I will not be treated like a child and I will be treated with respect".

My ND then says I was unprofessional and too defensive and I was like "You damn straight I raised my voice, you have wannabe god trying to tell me what I will and won't do when I'm off the clock. I won't tolerate that. She can disrespect herself all she wants, but she's not going to disrespect me".

After a talk I decided not to quit, still got my job. But I don't know what to do, I mean part of the reason I didn't quit was because I just got a new car tonight and I don't want to have these expenses and no job.

What can I do?
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Old 1st October 2002, 11:10 PM   #8
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See an attorney

We've already told you what to do....see an attorney to find out what your legal options are.

Hey, man, we're headed into a pretty serious recession, stock market decline, war, disease, famine, terrorism, nuclear possiblities, etc. Just be happy you got a job!!! Thousands are losing their jobs every hour and their homes every day.

An good attorney will tell you exactly where you stand.
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