The state is taking away lots

The state of California is planning an effective pay cut, writes Kristin Anderson.

A San Francisco employment services worker offers resume instruction to a job seekerA San Francisco employment services worker offers resume instruction to a job seeker

I WORK for the state of California in the Employment Development Department in San Francisco. Our department handles unemployment insurance and disability insurance as well as services to help individuals who are unemployed find work.

The current economic climate has hit the workers hard. The official unemployment rate for California is 7.8 percent, the fourth highest in the United States (fifth if you include Puerto Rico) Our department plays a vital role in helping workers with unemployment and disability issues pay their rent and bills, and feed themselves and their families.

The state has decided, without any notice to or input from the employees who will be affected, that our parking lots are "surplus state property," and that they will be sold and the money put into the General Fund. This is being done with no regard for how this will affect our safety and our ability to get to work, or how it will impact on our standard of living. We are fighting back.

The extremely high cost of living in San Francisco means that many of my coworkers already cannot afford to live here because our pay has not kept up. If our parking lots are sold, employee parking expenses will increase by $3,000 to $6,000 per year. That means that my coworkers who have to drive to get to work will essentially be faced with a pay cut of $3,000 to $6,000 per year. This attack on our standard of living cannot be allowed to move forward.

We have workers in our office who have mobility issues. Forcing them to park farther from the office creates an undue burden on them and affects their ability to come to work. There are two curbside spaces marked for persons with disabilities. These spots are necessary for access by the public for the disability office in our building. This directly affects the ability of the public to access our services.

If people in our building cannot afford to park and are unable to take public transportation instead, they will not be able to come to work. This will leave our already understaffed department even worse off and will directly affect our ability to serve the people who rely on us.

The state selling off this land only contributes to the rampant real estate speculation and gentrification that is forcing workers who can no longer afford the high cost of living out of San Francisco.

The state's budget should not be balanced on the backs of its workers. Selling state property is a temporary fix that will not work. The only viable long-term solution is forcing companies like Apple and Google to pay their share of the taxes and taxing the rich.

An injury to one is an injury to all, and in that spirit, I am asking that people please sign a petition against the move and share it with your friends and with any union, activist, and community organizations that you are part of.