Mike’s Prattle


Furloughs for the State of California

Posted by Mike on January 29, 2009

The final ruling came down today, giving the Governor the authority to issue a two day furlough for state employees, and that includes me. It’s bizarre for me in particular as I’m on what’s called a 9/8/80 schedule, I work 9 hour days and get every other Friday off. And it just so happens that the first day of the pay period (tomorrow) is my Friday off. So I’m in the position of not knowing whether I’m coming into work tomorrow. It’s funny how this would be my first thought, rather than a 10% pay cut. And I have a friend in town and was planning on seeing the nephews tomorrow.

I read a great deal of news every day, so since the economy went south I read about 4 or 5 companies a day or more slashing 1000s of jobs.  I have a brother who just started state service (special fund fortunately) and several coemployees that are all lower (and some much lower) in seniority than I am. So I can’t cavalierly get angry at these furloughs in terms of the personal hit, after all the whole country is badly off and it was just my turn so to speak. Right now I’m actually looking at buying a new HDTV on the backs of two years of tax refunds, so I can’t say at all that I’m badly off nor that I won’t survive 17 months with a 10% wage cut. I’d much rather my brother can support his family furloughed than he lose his job altogether, and feel the same way about my coworkers. After all I’m in that lucky and rare position of liking everyone I work with, we all get along and noone is a slacker.

However, the numbers don’t really add up. We work across from the State Capitol, which is teeming with restaurants. Not a day goes by that the nearby places aren’t totally slammed by noon and two Fridays off will significantly hurt the downtown economy here. Word has it that the judge who OK’d the furloughs is a Schwarzenegger appointee, so no surprise there. And there’s the facts that our union, in the last ten years has only managed to get us the most meager of cost of living increases, all of which were wiped out with this court order.

Also, the original executive order for furloughs also called for layoffs, so Schwarznegger’s threat yesterday that layoffs would be coming if the union doesn’t accept furloughs strikes me as typically disingenuous. And we’re talking 20% as a possibility here, so even with furloughs jobs will be in jeopardy. On the other hand, despite that I’m in no way a Republican or Schwarnegger supporter (or previous voter), it also seems over the top to blame it entirely on his mismanagement, despite the robotic chorus from the Republican congress whose no new taxes creed speaks of never ending idealogy. But from my perspective the poor state of the California economy certainly predates the recent economic crash, balancing the budget has been a struggle nearly every year (or two years), with a threat to state workers at the tail end of every crisis.

Overall, I’m thankful I’ve still got a job. And hope that I’m still off tomorrow at the very least and that they find a way to adjust 9/8/80 schedules for the furlough. It might be nice working 8 hour days again. Ya know the sorts of thoughts that go through your head when trying to keep some optimism on a sinking ship…


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