Thousands of pink slips sent out in Sacramento

May 15, 2009 7:10:15 PM PDT
Thousands of layoff notices started going out in Sacramento -- something department heads hate to send and workers are afraid they will receive.

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State agencies hustled to comply with Governor Schwarzenegger's order to send out 5,000 layoff notices. Workers with the least seniority will be getting them.

Alarin Mah was hired only 10 months ago and is dreading checking his mailbox this weekend.

"Yeah, it makes me real nervous. I came here thinking my job is secure, and that I was secure. Now, there's is no job security these days. So we'll just have to wait and see," said Mah.

With California's finances deteriorating even more, the move could save hundreds of millions of dollars.

"We have to cut back. Every California family and business is cutting back. They don't want to do it any more than we want to do it. But when we're making these severe cuts, we certainly need to look inward," said the governor's press secretary Aaron McLear.

Corrections is the hardest hit because it is one of the most expensive agencies to run, sending out 3,600 of the 5,000 pink slips.

Of the nearly $9 billion in annual payroll that comes out of the general fund, more than half is for workers who run the prison system.

The layoffs will mostly affect prison guards, but many parole agents, who are supposed to check up on felons after they're released, will be let go too.

"If they go through with it, there will be a calamity. This is a short-term proposed savings with long-term costs, which are going to be paid by the citizens of California through lives and property," said Lance Corcoran from the California Correctional Officers Association.

This isn't a drill. Since the last round of layoff notices a few months ago, 6,500 state government positions have been eliminated.

"There has been threats of layoffs, threats of furloughs, and it's never happened. Now, it's happening. So it's a reality now," said state worker Jennifer Noel.

Workers who get the notices have four months to find another job within state government that isn't paid for by the state's general fund, like the DMV which is supported by registration and license fees, not taxes. Or they join the ranks of California's 11.2 percent unemployment.

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