State workers offered special help program

August 12, 2008 7:45:41 PM PDT
State workers rallied in San Francisco over the budget impasse between the Governor and the Legislature. They're facing a possible pay cut to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour. And many don't know there is a program to help them make ends meet.

State employees are universally worried about paying the rent, the mortgage and feeding their families. But, many of them don't seem to know about special loans available to them. Loans that could make up the pay cut they're facing.

It's nail-biting time as state workers wonder how long the impasse will last and how they will get by.

Terry Re is a 36-year state employee. She has heard that some workers affected by the Governor's order will get no-cost or low-cost loans to make up the difference.

"Nobody has offered me a zero-interest loan. I'm going to get one-fifth of my salary. I have to pay a mortgage. A lot of people are going to have to go into foreclosure. It depends how long the budget process lasts."

It appears many rank and file workers don't know that five credit unions have stepped forward to offer bridge loans to cover their temporary pay cut.

One of them, Golden 1, has six Bay Area offices, including one on Golden Gate Avenue in the Civic Center.

Julie Soo is a State Attorney whose bargaining group, Case, may not get paid at all. She believes information about the no-or-low cost loans hasn't reached the lowest paid employees.

"Legislative staff have been used to this, so normally, they have all these zero-interest loans already pre-arranged so they don't really go through the same hardship as these current SEIU workers potentially face."

The State Department of Personnel Administration admits it can't guarantee help to all employees.

"We're encouraging financial institutions to contact us if they are making such assistance available. We're appreciative of those who have offered, including the Golden 1 Credit Union. However, we cannot compel any financial institution to help employees at this time," says Lynelle Jolley, Department of Personnel Administration.

While state workers put pressure on the Governor and the Legislature, the Democrats may be the ones really starting to feel the heat. Many of them hope to be heading to Denver for their party convention. And, if there is no budget deal, they could get stuck in Sacramento.


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