By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Green is a typical ”full-time“ part-time worker, working the equivalent of full time at several jobs, none of which has benefits. ”One of the most important things would be to have sick days,“ she said. ”Or vacation. I could spend more time with my son.“ She’d also like to be able to work a regular 20-hour week, but notes that often she can‘t, due to seemingly arbitrary rules and schedules. Many part-time employees say they fear they’ll be punished for taking unpaid sick days by being given fewer working days.
That 20-hour week is the most a part-timer can have under city rules, which allow just over 1,000 work hours per year. Of course, most voluntarily work longer hours. As Green notes, you can‘t walk away from an uncompleted task.
For some Rec and Parks workers, 20 hours a week can fill their life. Travel Town is Griffith Park’s slightly threadbare mechanical wonderland, full of fire trucks, locomotives, old cars and other real-life toys. Plus, on a typical weekend, working trains and screaming tots. As far as the work goes, John Coghlan, 59, couldn‘t be happier here. A slender, curatorial-looking man who once held a full-time, senior position at the El Pueblo monument downtown, he works a 20-hour schedule. The collection of aging artifacts seems his natural environment. ”I hammered that out of copper,“ he said, pointing to a vintage trunk’s restored, faux-rusty corner piece, which he‘s managed to make look like ancient iron. Coghlan restores and maintains the dozen or so old fire engines and ”maintains the 160 wooden spokes“ on all the old trucks, cars and wagons in his care. He also keeps close records of the exhibits, their condition and care. He seems to burn with curiosity and an endless desire to do things.
”No complaints about the pay,“ Coghlan said. ”But I miss my old medical benefits.“ He has to pay his own, to a private provider, for $2,700 per year. Coghlan’s in a skimpy, city retirement program, but he doesn‘t get Social Security. Like many other parks part-timers, doing what he loves is a key benefit. But he also wants a proportional share of the full-timer benefits. ”The question is,“ he asked, ”Do they want long-time employees in positions like mine?“
At 72, Eleanor Aguilar is impassioned by her work. ”Seniors need to be spoiled like children,“ she said. ”I do a lot of touching.“ At the Boyle Heights Senior Center near Evergreen Park, Aguilar’s clients are as old as 100. Like Honey Green, she would like a 20-hour workweek, but often gets only 12. (Like Green and Coghlan, she works many unpaid hours without complaint.) And of course, she wants sick-day eligibility.
”Just a few benefits would help us keep a stable, happier staff,“ she said. Would, in other words, help the little-noted people who help the people who use the city‘s museums, parks and senior centers do an even better job.
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