Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Times they are a changing... again.

You know that Bryan is a union electrician, but you may not know exactly what that means when it comes to job assignments, etc. Basically, if you're familiar with temp/contract work, that's similar. He is a member of the local union - that's where he pays his dues and gets his insurance, pension, etc. from. When he's out of work, he signs in (similar to signing in at a dr's office) out at the union hall and he gets in line for a job. As jobs come in, there is no matching up for the most qualified person, seniority, etc. You just get called when the job gets to your number. If you accept the call (job assignment), then you go to work for whatever contractor has that call in and you become their employee. That contractor can send you wherever they want, whenever (within their local union boundaries). And when they run out of work, you either get laid-off (sent back to the hall to repeat the signing in and waiting procedure), or if they like you they will try their best to "sit you at home" (furlough) until work comes up and they can send you back out to another job. A furlough is the contractor's only way of "choosing" their employees and their only way to attempt to reward good workers. It can backfire for the worker though, as you NEVER know when they will get more work.

The contractor Bryan currently works for depends largely on the car plants for their work. Since the local car plants are having such a difficult time, Bryan's contractor has steadily been losing work... This morning Bryan was told that he could either choose a lay-off or be furloughed. This is always a difficult decision, as you never know what the better route will be. Our typical lay-off experience has involved about 6 months of unemployment (with unemployment pay), but furloughs can be for many months (without any pay) and with no guarantee of a job. If the contractor never gets work, you can end up laid-off in the end and way back on the books. We've have friends that have been without work for over a year and a half.

Bryan has to make this decision by lunch time. Please be praying that God will clearly direct which way we should go. And, obviously be praying that he will return to work sooner rather than later. This is always a scary situation and, frankly, today I'm hating it. The bright side is that we will get more family time in the coming months than most people will all year. We are always blessed by the incredible amounts of time we get to spend together, and God has always been so faithful to provide all that we need. It is times like this that I am so completely in awe of God's provision and how He is loving us and taking care of us even when we do not know it or even know Him. When we bought this house seven years ago, we were not in relationships with the Lord, so we certainly were not praying about what house to buy. Bryan and I both worked and earned a good living. We knew we wanted a family soon and that I would quit working, but I wasn't house hunting with that in mind. I fell in love with this really big house, but we kept looking since it was on a busy street. We found the house we're in now, and it was about 60 grand less than the big one that I wanted. I kept telling Bryan that we could afford more, but in the end this one was just perfect for us. When we bought this house, we were both steadily employed and had never been faced with unemployment. Six months later, Bryan was laid-off for the first time. For the next four years, Bryan was laid off half the year, every year. I praise God for this smaller house with it's much smaller house payment and lower utility bills. He knew what we would one day face and intervened so that I could remain a stay-at-home mom and still have all of our needs more than met. God is so good.


We are officially laid-off. Thanks so much to all of you who have emailed, called and prayed for us. We have such amazing friends!! Bryan decided that taking the lay-off made more sense than being furloughed, so he collected his last paycheck and headed out to the hall to sign in after work today. His foreman was upset all day that he was having to let Bryan go, so that was complimentary and uplifting for Bryan. This lay-off was absolutely nothing personal and they did everything they could to keep him - there simply isn't any work.

Bryan talked to several of his friends who are in the know and he feels pretty optimistic that it won't be a super long lay-off this time. He's thinking maybe two months.

Zach was very excited to hear the news and didn't waste any time asking Bryan to volunteer in his class at school. So, Bryan will be doing that in the very near future. It is always such a blessing to get extra family time. We will have to come up with some nearly-free things to do with our time!

Thank you again for the many ways you have reached out to us and demonstrated your friendship. We appreciate you more than you know. Love you all!

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