The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 13, 2009
From the notebook: State workers talk about Columbus Day

Editor's note: A quote attributed to Rosemary Youngblood that she went in to work has been removed. Youngblood took a leave day off with management approval on Columbus Day.

Much of our reporting doesn't get into news stories that we write due to space limits of the fiber edition of The Bee. But State Worker blog users get insights, quotes and information from the notebook that inform the writing.

For our story on yesterday's Columbus Day action, we talked by phone to a half dozen state workers from all over the state and visited with others at a union grievance booth near the Capitol. We appreciated their on-the-record candor and regretted that we couldn't put more of their observations into the story.

Here's some of what they said:

Rose Youngblood, CDCR program technician in San Bernardino:

Most of the people here showed up for work. We got memos from management that threatened we'd be AWOL if we took the day off. I'd rather cover my butt and then worry about getting the time and money back. (She took a leave day with management persmission.)

SEIU? I don't believe a word they say, but they've got valid points on this one. Taking away Columbus Day is a violation of the Dills Act. (The union) is trying to make a statement, but this isn't the way to do it.

Angela Ramirez, works at the DMV office on Broadway and 24th St. in Sacramento:

I stayed home today. I'm hearing that some some offices are half-staffed. Phone units are about half-staffed.

Some people showed up. We saw a lot of intimidation, stuff like branch chiefs showing up to staff meetings and talking about the holiday. They said you could be fired if you took it off. That scared people.

I told my manager ahead of time that I was exercising my right to the holiday. I felt pretty strongly about this.

Alex Hommes, EDD claims adjudication office in Anaheim:

It's business as usual here, just the usual number of sick calls on a Monday. It looks like staffing may be down 2 percent if you're lucky.

I'm puzzled by both sides of this argument. The state has no legal footing. It's dumb and eventually taxpayers will get the bill for this. I really expected the state to back down.

But I'm surprised that Local 1000 would do this, too. They know many people are hurting from furloughs. It's like (the union) is calling a bluff and they don't have anything in their hand.

Frank Sullivan, associate program analyst at Health Care Services in Sacramento:

I'm here, but I've just filled out the grievance form. I've been with the state for 17 years, and this is the worst I've ever seen things, by far. We're supposed to be working under the terms of our past contract.

(The union) negotiated that we'd give up two holidays in exchange for two personal holidays. We got duped. (Schwarzenegger) took them and gave nothing. Negotiations are supposed to be give and take. He just keeps taking.

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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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