On Wednesday, more than 8,000 state workers and members of SEIU local 1000 descended upon the state Capitol to rally and promote the message, “I Am California”, and speak out against the Governor’s draconian cuts, furloughs and layoffs. We deserve our contract to be passed, and we say NO to federal minimum wage. Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker told the crowd that contract negotiations, which started Monday, must lead to a deal that “not only makes sense for state workers, but that makes sense for California.”
State workers have been enduring a 15 percent loss of wages due to furloughs implemented by Governor Schwarzenegger. Furloughs were scheduled to end in June 2010. But now, after 17 months of furloughs, state workers are facing the prospect of seeing their wages cut to the federal minimum wage — 75 cents less than California’s minimum wage — until a budget is in place. In addition, state workers are concerned about their retirement and pensions. Governor Schwarzenegger has openly stated that he wants to “reform” our pension program and cut our benefits.
Union members from Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno and across the state started arriving at the Capitol as early as 7am for the noon rally. There were informational and registration booths throughout the event.
SEIU 1000 members around the state who couldn’t make it to Sacramento demonstrated at their worksites during their lunch hour. At the Employment Development Department in Stockton, I joined more than 30 workers rallied in the streets of with signs and chants of, “Say No to Minimum Wage” and “Hey, Hey, What Do You Say? We Deserve Regular Pay”. We were joined by the President Joe Coy of the San Joaquin-Calaveras Counties Central Labor Council & Jerry Hunsucker, assistant political director of UFCW 8.