Several hundred angry state workers rallied on the west steps of California's Capitol Thursday to protest Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plans to temporarily slash the pay of most of them to $6.55 an hour because of the state's continuing budget mess.
Waving pennants and placards with the slogan "Value Us," the crowd listened to speeches by union leaders and several Democratic legislators.
"It appears to me that the governor did not know who he was messing with," said Yvonne Walker, president of Service Employees International Union Local 1000. "We're not political pawns."
Walker said that state workers should not be mollified by the fact that the governor's proposed executive order to drop workers' pay to the federal minimum wage wouldn't affect them until next month and any pay withheld would eventually be reimbursed.
"How many of you," she asked, "can pay your mortgage 'eventually?'" "How many of you can go to the grocery store and say 'hey, catch you later?'"
Another union official, Larry Perkins, suggested that if the governor's plan is enacted, workers should work for 20 minutes, then take a 40-minute break to reflect their reduced compensation.
"I don't know about you," Perkins said, "but I'm not working for $6.55."
The Democratic lawmakers seized the opportunity to rip into their Republican counterparts, who have been emphatic in opposing a proposed Democratic budget that includes about $8 billion in tax increases, mostly on the wealthy.
Read the full story at sacbee.com.