The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

July 7, 2009
Transportation supervisor: 'We play by the rules but our employer won't'

Over the last 11 months, we've heard from hundreds of state workers about their hardships as the state careens from one financial crisis to another. Nearly all of the people who contact us prefer to keep their stories private. We understand that, but we still value the communication; it gives us a sense of how the state's budget mess and the policies springing from it are affecting real people.

But occasionally someone reaches out and combines clarity of thought with courage to talk publicly.

Here's an e-mail from CalTrans supervisor Jeff Fredricksen, presented unedited with his permission. He's speaking for himself, not his department:

Jon,

I need to vent and you've been a good listener. Thank you for that.

My employees, disgusted as they are with this relentless onslaught from the Gov continue to say, "Well, I'm just glad I have a job."

That said, I will tell you that our safety officer made this prediction some months ago: "If we make this work, they'll keep coming back to the well."

And sure enough! She was right. We continue to produce the best product we can in spite of the punishment meted out by the Gov, the legislature and voters. Yes, Californians in general are responsible for this failure of government. We get the government we deserve.

Imagine voters approving a bond issue for Embryonic Stem Cell research while their state is BANKRUPT. Our bond rating is in the tank and our stupidity rating is even lower.

We're all frustrated. We play by the rules but our employer won't. I have to send my employees out in 100+ degree heat to patch potholes which they do without complaining. How do I do this in good conscience given the circumstances?

As for the grief the pay-cuts are causing, we're running out of ways to cut. Some of us have a "bunker" mentality. We stay home, hunkered down, and spending as little as we can. I'm in a one-income home and this is hard. I thought that after 28 years with the State, I'd have figured it out. Guess again. I gather I should be "glad I have a job."

Jeff Frederiksen
Caltrans Maintenance Supervisor
Shoshone, CA
(Living in Pahrump, NV. Thank God!)

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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