State workers upset over HR memo

August 7, 2009 6:32:11 PM PDT
Adding insult to injury, state health department workers have received a memo from their managers telling them where they can turn to pick up some extra work, and where they can't.

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Some state public health workers in Richmond are upset about a memo from their human resources department suggesting they fill their "Furlough Fridays" with part-time work at a retail store like Target.

"It was insulting," said public health worker Maryanne Dillow. "Go out and look for another job, go to Macy's, go here, go there."

The memo titled "Secondary Employment Activities" says "employment to venues such as Macy's, Target, Kohl's, etc. would not be considered in conflict" with workers' duties as state employees.

One worker told us she took the memo's suggestion and applied to her local Target store, only to be told the store already has a stack of applications and no openings for someone who can only work three Fridays per month.

"They're going to say no, we can find somebody else that can work full-time or all week," said public health worker Michelle Jett.

Asked about the intent of the memo, state public health director Dr. Mark Horton told ABC7, "because many employees have expressed interest in finding a part-time job, we issued a memorandum to clarify guidelines for secondary employment."

Public health workers are so upset about the furloughs, their union, SEIU Local 1000, has voted to authorize a strike. They are especially miffed that those who work for constitutional officers, like the secretary of state, don't furlough, yet public health workers do.

They fear a big emergency on a Friday.

"To me it's scary if anything were to get in the air. Any kind of spill with the refineries that are around here, what's going to happen?" said public health worker Gladys Huerta.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants all but the most essential workers furloughed -- a battle he won in court this spring. But the constitutional officers filed an appeal.

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