City worker talks Plan C

Fred Gigliotti is a social worker for the Office of Supportive Housing. He has two primary responsibilities: fielding complaints from shelter residents about conditions in homeless shelters, and working with individual residents to monitor their progress toward independent living. It’s been about a year since Fred started fearing for his job.

I first interviewed Fred for a piece I did for City Paper, profiling various city employees, outlining their responsibilities and their compensation. I knew he didn’t have a whole lot of seniority with the city — only about three years — and might be susceptible to being laid off, so I decided to call him this morning to see how he was taking the news about Plan C being averted.

Fred Gigliotti

Fred confirmed that he’d been nervous.

“I felt as far as my job, there were a lot of unknowns. You didn’t know for sure who was affected … I have a lot at stake. Not only a mortgage to pay and bills, but grad school.” Fred is working toward his Master’s in Social Work at Temple, and one of the requirements is a “field placement.” Fred was doing his through the city. Were he to be laid off, he might not finish that placement. He’d lose about a year of work, and suffer a major setback en route to his master’s.

“Emotionally, that did affect me. Having that hanging over the back of your head can put a toll on somebody.”

Fred’s department had already suffered from the last round of cuts. No one had been laid off, but positions were eliminated, and people who retired weren’t replaced. “We’re starting to feel the effects of not replacing positions,” he says. This made life harder at the shelters. “When you don’t have case managers at a shelter, it’s really hard to move people forward.”

He and his co-workers figured that everything dispensable had been cut, and if Plan C happened, there would be some real damage. There’s been a lot of discussion around these parts lately of how real “Plan C” ever was. This much is for sure: It was real for Fred. “I believed the mayor,” he says. He says he doesn’t agree with everything Nutter’s done, but has sympathy for the spot he’s in.

Last Tuesday, the public sector unions took some members, including Fred, to Harrisburg, to fight against the pension amendments attached by the State Senate to the Philly relief bill. Fred decided to fight for this job, rather than try to make other plans, because he wasn’t even sure what other plans to make. “It’s not like there’s a lot of jobs out there,” he says. Throughout the week, he and his co-workers followed the developments — every delay in Harrisburg, every warning from the mayor — with baited breath. Yesterday afternoon, when the State Senate finally passed the relief bill and did away with Plan C, Fred was out in the field, and in the evening he went to the Phillies game. He didn’t get the good news until he picked up a paper this morning.

His final thought, for now: “It’s a good day.”