State employees have become public enemy No. 1 in California. Many believe we are pampered whiners because we decided to work in the public sector with a good pension system.
But we are not numbers on a tally sheet. We are real people who decided to work for you.
Who are we?
We are your neighbors, family and friends.
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We are the middle class. We are the working class.
We create your highways, work at your state hospitals, serve in your prison system, fight the fires that threaten your homes, educate your children and grandchildren in higher education, clean your state office buildings, guarantee that your state buildings are safe and cut the trees and mow the lawns at all state properties.
We provide daily service at the DMV, financial aid office, student services, on-campus housing, student counseling and we provide other state services that most citizens take for granted.
We are electricians, doctors, plumbers, nurses, lab technicians, custodians, library assistants, grant analysts, professors, medical assistants, gardeners, tree trimmers, warehouse workers, cooks, prison guards, mental health professionals, admissions evaluators, financial aid workers, auditors, accountants, highway patrol officers, transportation workers, painters, counselors, coaches, clerical workers and administrative assistants at all levels.
As state workers, we chose honorable work. We knew we would not be millionaires, but this past year has been especially challenging for us.
Due to furloughs, most of us gave 10 percent to 15 percent of our monthly salaries to help manage the financial troubles of this great state. Some families gave up to 30 percent of their combined monthly salaries, for they had two wage earners working for the state.
Many state employees lost their homes/cars, had their utilities turned off, went without medical prescriptions and operations and made many other personal sacrifices.
Like you, we still have to pay our rent, mortgages, utilities, tuition, clothing and meet personal obligations to our children and elderly parents. Before furloughs hit, many state workers were already working two or three jobs just to make ends meet.
Neither state workers, nor the unions that represent us, created the current budget crisis. Now we are once again asked to take the blame and bear the cross for all.
This is another attack on the middle class — which suffers, as the upper class becomes richer.
Look behind the curtain of deceit and you will see people who would like to instill support for the elite and let the middle class be damned. Don’t be fooled by high-priced commercials that insinuate that we, the middle class, are the enemy of the state and must be destroyed.
We are hardworking citizens who have sacrificed our personal lives for the state of California.
Don’t allow the opinions of the elite to become your own. We are not the enemy, and neither are our children. Our children are the future — your future.
Joan Kennedy has worked as a library assistant at Cal Poly for 25 years.