State workers react to furloughs

January 29, 2009 6:42:36 PM PST
A judge ruled Governor Schwarzenegger has the authority to furlough tens of thousands of workers. It's a decision that has stunned state employees. They are now facing two days a month without pay.

Some employees will find it hard to make ends meet. Others say it's better than getting laid off. The ruling affects at least 230,000 state workers.

The lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles are long enough. Now imagine the DMV closing its doors twice a month.

What's even worse is that employees will not get paid on those two days.

"I think the legislatures have to get off their butts and actually pass a budget and not make us suffer. Two days out of a month for a whole year and a half, we are barely making it right now," said DMV worker Adelina Galdamez.

"We have houses to pay and this is 10 percent cut in our checks, which is not good at all," said DMV employee Jeannette Amador.

A Superior Court judge said the Governor had the authority to order furloughs on his own, something the unions had challenged.

"The state is in a huge mess," said Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette.

The Governor's Office says the furloughs would save $1.4 billion through June 2010. The state faces a $42 billion budget deficit.

"No part of our budget is immune from the impacts that the budget crisis that we are in," said Lynelle Jolley from the California Department of Personnel.

While most employees don't like it, some acknowledge it's better than losing their jobs. The Governor had warned that would happen without the furlough plan.

"I'd rather have ten percent off than layoffs, and I don't want to see my friends or any of my co-workers or anybody for that matter, I don't think now is the right time to get laid off," said state employee Corazon Celeste.

The move will certainly affect the hot dog stand outside the DMV. Other local businesses who serve state employees will also feel the impact.

Raymond Lee is a restaurant manager. He says some customers have already started cutting back.

"Regulars who come every day, I see them coming in less and less. They usually come five days a weeks, they've be coming in two or three times a week," said Lee.

Right after the judge's decision, the Service Employees International Union, the SEIU which represents the DMV employees, filed a complaint with the Public Employment Relations Board.

That agency oversees state labor issues. The union and others are also considering taking the matter to the court of appeal.