Staff Categories

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In general staff means anyone who is paid by Free Geek to work at Free Geek. (Note: often when people use the term "staff" they use it as shorthand for "staff collective".)

Workers that get paid through outside agencies (i.e. paid job training programs) and volunteers (even volunteer interns and core volunteers) are not considered staff.

Collective positions

This is the group of people who are hired on a long term basis to oversee all the day to day work at Free Geek. While each member has areas of specific responsibility, each member also takes responsibility on some level for the whole thing. That is, while other staff members can say "not my department -- go bug someone else", collective members have to at least know where to direct issues, and ultimately deal with them if needed. Collective positions are salaried and come with benefits (health care, paid holidays, vacation/sick days, and 403(b).)

Probationary collective members vs. full collective members
Collective members have a six month probationary period, after which they are full collective members. During the probationary period the individual and the collective need to decide if the person is a good match for the position and the collective. When figuring out how long someone has been in the collective we go by the date they were hired into the collective (not the date they gained full status).

There are some concrete duties that all collective members share:

  • a collective member must serve on at least one of the Standing Staff Committees. (A full time member serves on two of these committees.)
  • a collective member attends and participates in staff meetings, including rotating through the facilitator and scribe roles.
  • a collective member takes responsibility for overarching management of organization.
  • a collective member has to deal with volunteer complaints and discipline problems as they arise, rather than pass them off to someone else.
  • a collective member participates in peer reviews of other staff and collective members.
  • a collective member coordinates volunteers as an expected part of their job.

(See the Collective Level Expectations page for a more detailed list.)

Non-profit Apprentices

Non-profit Apprentices (NPAs) are staff members that work for a limited amount of time in a targeted area. These positions are aimed at people needing job skills, for example young people right out of high school or college. Apprentices are usually part time workers, and they usually work for about nine months. NPAs are paid an hourly wage. Being an apprentice at Free Geek does not lead to a position in the staff collective.

Exploratory positions

Exploratory positions are paid positions that are set up so we can try out a new program and see if it merits a new collective position, an internship, or something else. Workers in these positions are paid an hourly wage.


Substitutes are people that fill in when the schedule has gaps in it due to staff members leaving, getting sick, or taking vacation or leave. There is no guarantee of work continuing or regular work. Substitutes are paid an hourly wage.

Committed non-collective positions

Committed non-collective staff members are paid to work at least 24 hours per week and have negotiated a commitment to work at Free Geek for at least one year with the staff collective. These positions are paid an hourly wage. They receive a week's paid time off (for vacation and sick days) per year, and receive Free Geek subsidized health care benefits.


There have been other staff positions than those listed above. For example we have had "contract workers" cover many of the duties of build coordinator, tech support coordinator, and printer coordinator in the past. These people are paid an hourly wage.


Ideally, a worker collective is an egalitarian group of people where everyone has equal access to decision making. There are limits to how pure we can be with this ethic, however. For instance, we need substitute coverage that is by nature very part time and sporadic, and it's impractical to bring all substitutes, however temporary their status, into the collective.

Another issue arises when someone who contributes well to Free Geek but does not want to take on the added responsibilities that go with being in the collective. Too many people like that fosters a situation where the collective shrinks in size to the point where it's a small group of managers compared to a larger pool of workers, even though no one in the collective wanted that to happen!

In developing the Collective Level Expectations page, the staff collective agreed that collective members must be scheduled for 28 hours per week normally, though can go as low as 24 hours on a temporary basis if approved.

See Also

The staff collective has approved a Staff Ratios policy that uses these definitions.

Movement between categories

This chart illustrates current practice for paths between categories. Solid lines indicate paths that have been taken and are still current practice from time to time. The grey dotted lines indicate a path that has been taken in the past, but is no longer current practice. The dashed green lines indicate paths that have not been tried or need additional thought before continuing.

Bubbles with grey borders are not existent at this time. Those with black borders are currently existent.

This is a graph with borders and nodes. Maybe there is an Imagemap used so the nodes may be linking to some Pages.

None of these paths speak to the process of actual mechanics of moving from one category to another. For example, this chart does not show that there is a hiring committee and/or a collective decision involved in moving someone into the collective, though that is the case.