Listen to Your Old Man


The American humorist Mark Twain once said, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant, I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”


Now, pretend that I am your old man, and listen to me!


I recently had to stand by as another of our members was fired for misusing the County computer that was assigned to him. I had to stand by, because there was nothing the Union could do to protect members who misuse their computer!


In today’s economy, it is a poor time to be unemployed. It is an especially poor time to be fired for something as dumb as going where no man (or woman) should go on the boss’s computer. If a techno-dinosaur like me knows that every keystroke on the computer is saved on the hard drive, those of you who grew up in the computer age, must surely know that there is no where to hide on the computer.


But in case you do not, here is a little refresher:  The computer on your desk belongs to the County!


It is put there for you to work on. It is not there for you to play with!


There are certain things you cannot do and places you can never go. You cannot look at PORN of any kind at all! You cannot use the County computer to store information about another job or business that you may have, or use the computer to run another business.


You cannot go to certain web sites, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, and look up information for which you have no business reason to look up. The same goes for any other web site that contains private information for which you have no business reason to look.


If you’re caught spending a lot of time playing on the computer, you can be disciplined – or fired – if that time is work time for which you have been paid. That is considered theft.


I mention all these because they are actual reasons why employees have been fired at Hennepin County.


Maybe the best way to stay out of trouble is to follow this rule of thumb:  do nothing on the County’s computer that you would not be comfortable showing your Supervisor. 


If you have done any of these things on the County computer, stop doing them right now, and pray that your boss never has a reason to pull your hard drive.


~ Cliff Robinson, AFSCME Local 34 Chief Steward