The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 2, 2010
State worker: Two months of furloughs would put my family 'on the streets'

This e-mail from Correctional Sgt. Leesa Kirby was among roughly 300 we received in the aftermath of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's furlough order last week. We're posting her e-mail here with her permission. She's speaking for herself, not her employer or anyone else:

From: Leesa Kirby
Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2010 12:56 PM
To: Ortiz, Jon - Sacramento
Subject: Furloughs

Dear Mr. Ortiz,

I recently requested for you to research information regarding the banks and their support for State Workers in the event of federal minimum wage. You did just that and I really appreciate your hard work and dedication regarding our fight. I, now, have another request for you, if it's worth taking on.

These furloughs, re-implemented by the Governor, are going to be more devastating to State Workers the second time around. I don't know where else to turn as I have already sent letters to legislators, DPA, and Arnold Schwarzenegger himself.

As a Correctional Sergeant for the CDCR, we are given peace officer responsibilities and rights with the badge bestowed upon us, according to PC 830.2 and PC 830.5. Unfortunately, The Governor's administration does not want to accept that we are peace officers and have excluded us from the "excluded public safety departments" that will not be included in the furlough program. We risk our lives everyday that we walk inside the barbed wire fence. I was recently assaulted at work and placed on work comp 6 months ago. I will be returning to work next week, while continuing medical care for my physical injury as well as psychological help for PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). I want to know why CORRECTIONAL PEACE OFFICERS are not exempt from furloughs along with the rest of the public safety departments. This just doesn't seem ethical or legal.

These furloughs are almost a $1,000 a month pay cut for me. I support my disabled husband and 12 month old baby. Just last month, I locked into an agreement with the IRS to make monthly payments for the last two years of unpaid taxes (due to going exempt because of the furloughs 18 months ago). I reached my agreement with the IRS because I was under the impression that the furloughs were ending. Now, my family and I really will be out on the streets within the next two months if these furloughs take place. I share my story because I know there is more people out there hurting due this situation. I want answers as to why we are being targeted and other groups are not. Our Union attempted to bargain in good faith, and they were "shot" down immediately. We never stood a chance. I just want answers. Please help, Mr. Ortiz. I can provide more information if needed, if you can help at all.

Thank you for your time.

Respectfully,

Leesa Kirby

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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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