Oakland city workers protest office closures

November 26, 2008 5:45:41 PM PST
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellum's office is going ahead with one if its big moves to deal with the city's huge budget deficit by shutting down most city services for thirteen days over the next seven months, starting Wednesday.

Around 200 city workers turned out in the rain Wednesday to protest the move despite the city's claim that it will save about $13 million.

The workers said they were ready to work, but all city offices were locked up. The workers say they can think of other ways to save money.

The union thinks this is bad for workers because they are losing out on 13 days of pay, a significant cut. They say it's also bad for the city and the people who live there.

One man in the electrical department told ABC7 that several traffic lights went out Wednesday and people who weren't working were called to make repairs.

One electrical worker said, "So, I had to direct them to the right people to call. And that's one of the problems with this shutdown. We have people who are in charge, who are supposedly in charge, that don't know what an emergency is and they're trying to tell us what to do. Well you can't have it both ways. If you're shut down, you're shut down."

Union workers Wednesday talked about fighting for a fair contract. They carried signs talking about better-paid workers at City Hall, workers getting paid $200,000 annually.

They have put out ideas on how to save the $13 million other than shutting down city offices. The ideas include cancelling the police academies, continuing to collect fees and the idea that some members of City Hall should take a pay cut.

The workers said Wednesday's protest will not be the last one.


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