My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Daily Sound Off: Instant Termination

Here’s today’s Daily Sound Off:

On 5/28 at 8:43 PM we in the Brooklyn Central LCO 2223 received frantic calls to turn in our binders and EQs as there was no more work… how could this be when some of us had more than 20 addresses where we had not yet counted the people? How could this be when friends of ours were being hired to BEGIN their jobs with the Census bureau? We have been working tirelessly for three weeks and now this? Can someone please tell us what is going on?

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36 Responses to “Daily Sound Off: Instant Termination”

  1. mandy_Reeves Says:

    same here. Just got my letter yesterday…termination due to lack of work

  2. PM Says:

    You’re lucky it’s due to that. In an office here, with just over a thousand people taken on, they’ve gone through the original office stock (from your kit 104/5) of 1000 D-282s (the warning) and 500 D-283s (curtains for you) forms.

    For 1000 people?

    Are the people who were so hungry for work in the field, and run their butts off to get the job done, really that bad- or are their ‘supervisors’ just that unfit to lead?

    I wouldn’t want half of them to boss my dog, much less the good workers I know at Census.

    To me, it seems that some people who get canned for performance may not seem to know that the assisted suicide termination (“resignation in lieu of termination”) counts differently to the unemployment folks in determining benefits, and take “resignation” on the 283, essentially under duress, when it’s shoved at them by some cranky boss who has to look good and produce results or else as well as you- when they either didn’t know before or haven’t been informed of their rights/options under various (e.g. State) provisions of Law (our State gives the respondent 21 days, I’m told- a little far from “OK- you can take hemlock right now instead”). My correspondent lawyers tell me of this twist at least; you might want to ask yours- but that’s for the performance-based cannings.

    Condolences to those terminated for no work; it might be all Census can do. By virtue of our operation, Census may think it’s (unfortunately) better to be over-staffed than come up short- hence the “no promise of work” caveat when they called you in for training. Census doesn’t have it easy in this, as they picked us up last minute to jump into work, and will burn through half of us due to poor planning anyway. Now, if they really could figure out what they’ve been doing since 1790 at the top, this mightn’t have happened to you.

  3. anonymous Says:

    My CL and CLA quit today because they did not want to work the Memorial Day Weekend. We found out at our crew meeting this afternoon. They did not show up. A different CL came and took our D308 and completed EQs, etc.

  4. Randall Flagg Says:

    Where is the printed and verified edict exempting the Census from “Holiday Pay” as defined at this Department of Commerce website:

  5. Enumerator123 Says:

    My CL said he will be working on other operations post-NRFU and some of our crew will be taken with him. Is this going on in your area and what is the next operation. He also said some of us might need to travel to another area.

  6. pranita veeria Says:

    Sounds like the incompetence of Area/RCC management at work again…. they are so fearful of “over budget” that they send these termination requests to the offices….

  7. Another Census Worker Says:

    My CL has also said she will be working on post-NRFU operation “Vacant Delete” and I could work with her. No promises, but sounds interesting. We are almost through NRFU here, with only a few EQs left. We had a big push to get done before the Memorial Day weekend last week.

  8. Maiasaura Says:

    We’re wrapping up and my FOS said we will begin to turn in our binders on Wednesday. Hundreds of quality control issues now coming up. My FOS said the next project will be VDC (vacant delete something-or-other) possibly beginning in mid-July with a week of training. We’ll be letting some folks go next week once they hand in their books. I think it amounts to mediocre performers released for “lack of work” (eligible for unemployment maybe) and performance issues for others (Unemployment? Doubt it.). The best people will be asked to work on VDC (no guarantees, of course). I also suspect that many people will get picked up immediately for the massive QC effort that is sure to come right away. We’ll see.

    Personally, I’m happy to do more work and I have some people who are good at what they do and are also happy for more work.

  9. Maiasaura Says:

    At this late stage, I personally feel that anyone who quits simply because they don’t want to work on Memorial Day is short-sighted and probably didn’t want the job anyway.

  10. anonymous Says:

    Maiasaura, I agree.

  11. meek Says:

    in my area, yes, all of the enumerators except the top five in each crew were let go on friday. I went to the daily meet today (sunday) but there was no mention of what we will be doing on monday, beside the remaining eqs that are left in the binders. I have to see if the CL or CLA will update us on the next phase (VDC?), or if we will have other work.

  12. mandy_Reeves Says:

    well I had to be out for two weeks for gall bladder removal surgery, so they probably realized they would be done by the time I got clearance to come back. Not a HUGE deal…I might call the LCO or my FOS and see if they are doing other operations that they can use me on.

  13. EnumeratorInHeels Says:

    Brooklyn LCO 2223 you guys are working too slow. Since the Census is a race to see who finishes first they are either bringing in people from Bronx, Queens or even worst they’re are going to start bringing people in from North Carolina. I got one word for you: UNDERCOUNT.

  14. Enumerate this Says:

    @Maiasaura: I love your faith in the pure meritocracy of the census. To wit: “I think it amounts to mediocre performers released for “lack of work” and performance issues for others…. The best people will be asked to work on VDC.”

    Just like every other aspect of census hiring, there is no rhyme or reason. Great workers are being let go and idiots are being kept on. If names had been drawn out of a hat in a different order, your FOS would have been a CLA and your CLA would have been the FOS.

    There are enumerators in my crew who are eminently underemployed — guys with advanced degrees who have worked in management jobs for years. Their CL is borderline illiterate. They may be kept on in the short term, and they may get picked up for later operations. They may not.

    But don’t delude yourself into thinking that any hiring decisions made now are in the future favor “the best of the best.” Purely, 100 percent, arbitrary.

  15. E3 Says:

    Enumerator123, about a week ago I asked my CL if our crew would be in the pool for any post-NRFU operations, but her reply was “No, this is it.”

    Cue sad face. I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself. I lucky enough to still be working, for how long is anybody’s guess.

  16. EQNV Says:

    Enumerate this, well said. Our crew leader is a neo-embryo who condescends to older women. It is so bad that I had to say something and I am male. He and the FOS sit together like father and son at their first baseball game. And the FOS is as approachable as a low brow night club bouncer. He has been a horrible-horrible crew leader and has kept only males on. I plan on resigning this week simply because I just don’t want to be part of this chaos anymore. He quibbles over 15 minutes on time sheets yet he has googled people in order to fill in the blanks with proxies.

  17. Enumerator123 Says:

    What I was told is that the CL can recommend people for the other operations and after NRFU my crew would be “rolled into” the next operation with reduced numbers.

  18. GS-X Says:


    When you say your FOS has googled people to fill in the blanks with proxies, is he getting phone numbers of people to call so he can ask them to serve as proxies? Or is he looking for bios that say resident at 123 Cactus Street is married to Maria and they have two children? Or are you describing something else I can’t imagine?

  19. pranita veeria Says:

    If they like you, you’ll be kept….if not, unemployment. Cronyism is rampant in the Census….don’t fool yourselves.

  20. WT Says:

    Our office does this to incompetent people on occasion.

    If you’d prefer to be terminated for cause, you may find it harder to be hired in the future.

  21. pranita veeria Says:

    Crony-ism…pure and simple…biggest culprits are the ARCM, and 2 Area Managers in NYC region….BY FAR

  22. EnumeratorInHeels Says:

    pranita veeria what are the names of the area managers and ARCM?

  23. pranita veeria Says:

    initials……A.C, G.P and D.L

  24. anon Says:

    would people have been told if they were terminated for low performance? I and I thought everyone else on the crew was told 2 weeks ago that there was no more work. Tonight I walk by Au Bon Pain and see several people turning in D-308s to my Crew Leader. I am applying for unemployment tomorrow and don’t want to come off as a liar.

  25. end the census Says:

    Enumerate this, you’re so right! I’ve witnessed this several times — and yet it never ceases to surprise me. PS to SM, are you investigating the promotion I told you about??????

  26. GS-X Says:

    anon, apply for unemployment. Looks like you were lied to. If you were terminated for working carefully
    and honestly, they should have told you. The best way to find out why you were terminated is completing an unemployment application.

  27. Dairyland CL Says:

    anon, there may be another operation going on for your Crew Leader. I have been in a few as a CL and enumerator. I was trained three weeks ago for Enumerator in UEQC and haven’t seen work yet. This would be the fifth time I’ve been hired.

  28. TR Says:

    “But don’t delude yourself into thinking that any hiring decisions made now are in the future favor “the best of the best.” Purely, 100 percent, arbitrary.”

    Agreed. Though in my experience in the LCO, it wasn’t arbitrary. They kept clerks based on how long they’d been there, which was completely stupid because the earlier clerks were hired from a much smaller applicant pool before the LCOs opened, and the laziest clerks came from this bunch.

    However since the Census does not give temporary managers any individual leeway (until the shit hits the fan), they were forced to let go some of their best workers in the interest of being “fair”.

  29. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    You know, at least half the complaints I’ve read here can be explained by one simple fact: the Census is winding down. HELLLLO. Our LCO used to take calls from the field 24 hours a day; now it’s from 8am to 10pm. Enumerators are being let go because, guess what? there aren’t that many binders left to do.

    Get over it. (Not including any legitimate complaints about incompetence, cronyism, etc., none of which I’ve witnessed firsthand, fortunately.)

  30. FM Says:

    Update on LCO 2223 – just got word that my team (not sure about others) is getting some more work, redo of some cases with a new team leader (mine quit). Meeting and 3 and more detailed info to come.

    At least we have some positive news here…

  31. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    I worked on Memorial Day weekend on a “special operation” where we worked in a neighboring county (NRFU) which apparently underhired enumerators; 3 fairly full days of much-needed work. There may even be some more work coming up this week …

  32. Injured Enumerator Says:

    Was let go for being among under-performers after the Post-Memorial Day Purge. The fact that I was medically required to take time off and am now limping due to job-related injury made no difference.

  33. CL Says:

    Anyone starting VDC ( Vacant Delete Check) yet? I’m hoping we get a nice little break here soon between operations but we’re wrapping up NRFU this week and I just heard training starts for VDC as soon as next week. Anyone else have any info on VDC and its training schedule?

  34. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    @Injured Enumerator: While I’m sure we all sympathize with your condition, why do you think the Census Bureau should keep you on if you are, as you say, limping? Where are they required to employ you if you aren’t capable of doing the work in a timely manner?

  35. Injured Enumerator Says:

    @Yet Another Enumerator: Well, I don’t know. If you were struck and injured during the course of your work as an enumerator, would you not appreciate this being taken into consideration during evaluation of job performance? After all, had I not been conducting work for the Census at the time, I would quite probably have never been injured.

  36. NameRequired Says:

    @ Yet Another Enumerator… I don’t know where your assignment was but I was working out of Southern Illinois and it has been a complete disaster. We had EQ’s returned because we were told several things about filling them out in training that then changed during the operation. My CL was sent to Iraq and it made me really angry that they would select someone to lead that couldn’t complete the operation as a leader. Then the CLA they allowed him to choose (not to discriminate) was a 19 year-old who went on a power-trip because he was making $12.50 an hour and got to tell people what to do. To top it all off, I recently received my letter for termination due to lack of work 2 days AFTER I received a phone call saying they wanted me to come sign papers that I would work for them again. How confusing and incompetent is all of that?