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Thread: Building shutting down at work (and can they do this?)

  1. #1
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    Building shutting down at work (and can they do this?)

    First I will ask: Does anyone on this board work for OSHA or know about employment laws?

    I apologize in advance if I sound a little crazy, but my spouse has been ill for 5 days and I'm pretty upset about a different work situation. But here goes:

    We have found out that an underground transformer right behind our building on campus could possibly "blow" or just quit working at any time. This will mean a total shutdown of our library. We'll have no power, no AC, no internet. We've been told we'll temporarily move to another building. BUT, if anyone should need a book, they think we're going to come over here in the dark, in summer with no AC, no backup power, and pull books for people.

    Is this legal? Can they make us do that? My spouse (who used to work in the construction field) says no way--there are safety laws in place preventing people from entering a building under these conditions. This is why I'm asking about OSHA. Because I plan to report my employer if they think they're going to force us to do this.

    Frankly, I cannot see why they don't either 1) lay everyone off for the period of time the building will be closed; or 2) talk to another college just blocks away, with whom we share tuition reimbursement and a common bookstore. Why can't people use their library in the interim?

    The other thing they said is everyone should be taking vacation time during this period. I'll be off a week in June, but I don't have enough vacation time to take off more. Can an employer tell you when to take your vacation time?

    Thanks for listening.

  2. #2
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Not sure what the US labour law might say but the overriding issue is that the situation is unsafe at present which will negate almost any standard legal response.

    In Canada, plant shutdowns are not unusual at all. My SonIL usually waited to see when the shutdown took place to plan his time off and coordinated with DD's flexible time off provided no one else with seniority above hers claimed it first.
    Since this will impact a number of people, I would wait to see what really takes place as others will have something to say.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  3. #3
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    I wont address the safety issue since I dont know answers although I have worked in plenty of libraries without AC and in the dark when the power goes out. But granted, that doesnt last long, no more than a day.

    Absent any specific laws of your state that I dont know about, I will say yes, your employer can tell you when to use your vacation.

    I do not understand your point of view here which seems to hold two conflicting views which are 1) lay off everyone—good 2) everyone takes vacation—bad.

    I really cannot imagine a situation where every employee wants to be laid off. That means no pay. Why do you think that is a good idea? Perhaps I am not understanding your point of view.

    My library had a similar issue for about two weeks, associated with construction, and unplanned. We allowed staff to take any of these options:
    1) use vacation time
    2) take off time without pay
    3) work at another library location

    One of my favorite (Not) employees reminded me that she would be taking vacation only when it was convenient for her.

    Dont be that person.

  4. #4
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    It's not that I think vacation is bad. It's that I don't have the vacation time to take. In my state, if you get laid off, you can collect unemployment compensation. It's just an option; perhaps I am mistaken about the conditions under which one can use it.

    My POV is that I don't see the point in a library-that-isn't-a-library. Not only do people come here for books and other media, it is one of the few computer labs on campus, including one that is open round-the-clock.

    If management's concern is access to print materials and serving patrons, it would make the most sense to make a deal with the other college and let our students use their library.


    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    I wont address the safety issue since I dont know answers although I have worked in plenty of libraries without AC and in the dark when the power goes out. But granted, that doesnt last long, no more than a day.

    Absent any specific laws of your state that I dont know about, I will say yes, your employer can tell you when to use your vacation.

    I do not understand your point of view here which seems to hold two conflicting views which are 1) lay off everyone—good 2) everyone takes vacation—bad.

    I really cannot imagine a situation where every employee wants to be laid off. That means no pay. Why do you think that is a good idea? Perhaps I am not understanding your point of view.

    My library had a similar issue for about two weeks, associated with construction, and unplanned. We allowed staff to take any of these options:
    1) use vacation time
    2) take off time without pay
    3) work at another library location

    One of my favorite (Not) employees reminded me that she would be taking vacation only when it was convenient for her.

    Dont be that person.

  5. #5
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    Call OSHA and find out if this is ok.

  6. #6
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Oh ok, you think you would draw unemployment pay. Well ok, maybe. You know that isnt the same amount as your salary, right? It will be less.

    It seems to me that your Library’s administration is keeping staff propped up to receive regular pay. That is the ideal situation for employees. More than once I have thought your library has the appearence of being run for the employees and this situation supports that.
    Last edited by iris lilies; 2-20-18 at 5:25pm.

  7. #7
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    iris lilies, you are probably correct about the situation and the employees. Not to divert from my own thread, but this situation can be both good and bad. Good because we all have jobs. Bad because all it takes is a change in administration and some of us might be out of a job. Others have told me this kind of thing is "not sustainable."

  8. #8
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    How long will your building be down?

    In my state, if I understand it, one must be laid off for more than two weeks to receive pay. And it's at the current unemployment rates, which are quite a bit lower than normal wages. And, having used the weeks, if you then become unemployed that money is not available to you. (Although I don't think you should focus on that).

    I assume if all electrical service is shut down to the building, that only personnel necessary to the work on the site - ex, maintenance personnel - would be allowed access.

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    They should get you big flashlights or lanterns if there are no windows so that you can find the books.

    There are many people who work in jobs in the summer heat and some who work without electricity (state park rangers come to mind). I can't imagine there are laws mandating A/C. You are entitled to things like toilet facilities that are basic.

    Libraries, and the human race, predate the invention of electricity. You will survive.

  10. #10
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    This is the job you've not been happy in for a long time isn't it? Or was it co-worker issues? Sorry that here is one more thing. A lot of things dictate when vacations happen. My husband's employer only had 8 weeks in the summer to fit everyone's vacations. One week everyone is off, my husband will be pissed off if he can't take his other weeks around that week. He hates split time off.
    Float On: My "Happy Place" is on my little kayak in the coves of Table Rock Lake.

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