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Calif. State Employees Protest Schwarzenegger's Proposed Furloughs

New America Media, News Report, Vanessa Hernandez and Angela Ruggiero Posted: Jul 02, 2009

Editor's Note: More than 8,000 state employees arrived in Sacramento to protest a third furlough day proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of his solution to the states budget deficit. The additional day would result in a 14 percent pay cut.

SACRAMENTO - Arnold Schwarzenegger, the movie star, is used to acknowledging crowds of adoring fans. But yesterday at the state Capitol, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger encountered a not-so-adorning crowd of state workers.

He ignored them.

Protesters in buses from all over the state began arriving at the Capitols west steps and lawn before 7:30 a.m. and continued until mid-afternoon. The more than 8,000 state employees, members of the Service Employees International Union Local 1000, clad in purple shirts, came to protest furloughs the governor had proposed on Tuesday as part of his solution to the states budget deficit.

Schwarzeneggers new proposal is to add a third furlough day each month. The additional furlough day would result in a 14 percent pay cut and save the states general fund $425 million per year, according to the governors office.

Sandy Bloom, a nurse for the California Correctional Womens Facility at Chowchilla, said she came to the rally to show her opposition to a third furlough day.

We know we have to trim off the fat (from the budget), and we did that, said Bloom. But now we are starting to take from the essentials. How are we going to make payments on our cars? Our houses?

Yvonne Walker, president of SEIU Local 1000, said she was fed up with state policies and thought that the governor should close corporate tax loopholes.

The state is giving $34.7 billion in private vendor contracts, Walker said. Thats two to three times more than funding for state programs. This is not efficient and not good for California. Workers have to say, Enough!

Some protesters noted that the Legislature and state judiciary were not included in the furlough days because they are separate branches of government.

The Legislature is not doing its job, said Linda Cotta, who works at the State Compensation and Insurance Fund in Fresno. Why are they hurting the lower guys first?

Aaron McLear, Schwarzeneggers press secretary, said the governor agreed that the Legislature was not doing what it was supposed to do.

We would have liked to avoid the third furlough day, too, McLear said. The Legislature has been incapable of producing a solution to our deficit.

All wore purple shirts to show their solidarity, which was written on the back of their shirts.

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