Many state employees are not pleased with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to give them several days of unpaid vacation a month.
The governor’s budget-saving plan forces furloughs, or unpaid days off, onto most state employees starting Friday. Over 200,000 state workers will be affected, saving the state $1.3 billion over the next three months.
Service Employees International Union Local 1000, which represents over 95,000 state workers, is fighting the furloughs in court, said spokesperson Jim Zamora.
“We’re trying to come up with a compromise with Governor Schwarzenegger … with something that causes less havoc for state workers,” Zamora said.
The current plan will shut down certain agencies every first and third Friday of the month, which imposes a 10 percent pay cut on all furloughed workers.
Zamora said SEIU Local 1000 and other groups are trying to find something that will reduce the need for furloughs or at least alter the current solution.
“We put up a proposal … to put up an early retirement plan … then boom, those workers will be off the books,” Zamora said. “Something more flexible, that keeps workers in mind.“
Another suggestion has been to offer voluntary furloughs, to protect those who depend on every paycheck to get by in the current recession.
Governor Schwarzenegger is not the first to resort to furloughs to help with a recession. Zamora said in the past 20 years there have been two other times the state has tried to furlough workers: Governor Pete Wilson and Governor Gray Davis.
“When there’s a recession, the government has to cut the budget,” Zamora said.
In Davis and throughout the state, the Department of Motor Vehicles is one agency that will be affected.
DMV information officer Armando Botello said DMV offices will close every first and third Friday. About 8,500 state employees will be affected just by the DMV closures.
The closures will probably create longer lines on days the DMV is open, Botello said.
“The main thing we are telling people is to use the Internet … and we ask that they make appointments,” he said.
Botello said just last year the DMV stopped providing Saturday services in an effort to save the state money.
“There have been other [budget cuts], but not as drastic as this,” Botello said.
Though the local DMV office is the only agency that will be affected in Davis, local residents who work at affected agencies will feel the burn too, Navazio said.
“The Davis community is impacted beyond city hall,” Navazio said. “We are not dealing with our own budget problems in a vacuum.”
Budget problems in Sacramento may also start to affect students, said California Faculty Association spokesperson Alice Sunshine, despite the fact that the governor is not furloughing any University of California or California State University workers.
At CSU campuses, classes are getting cut. Throughout all public university systems, Cal Grants and other funding are disappearing, she said.
“Budget cuts are affecting all students right now. There is chaos on campuses,” Sunshine said.
SASHA LEKACH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.