Dozens of workers from SEIU Local 660, the union representing all of the public employees of Los Angeles County, protested at the Pereira Drive entrance to the Student Center on Oct. 20. The union protested to make a statement against the California Performance Review Commission’s meeting held inside the center to discuss Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to streamline California’s bureaucracy.
The California Performance Review is a report that was published by the governor’s office which includes over 1,200 recommendations for streamlining California’s bureaucracy and to reduce spending.
The report states that implementing its recommendations could save the state over $32 billion over five years, while conservative estimates are around $10 to $15 billion.
The proposal includes among other recommendations, the privatization and eliminiation of some state functions, which could potentially result in the loss of thousands of jobs.
These reasons prompted SEIU Local 660 to gather at UCI.
Suzan Pour-Sanae, SEIU Local 660’s campaign coordinator against the CPR, explains that the most important problem is that government employees have not been involved in discussions regarding the fate of their jobs.
‘We believe in making government better, improving the system, so that it runs more efficiently and productively,’ Pour-Sanae said. ‘But we want to be a part of the conversation, because the people that know the system best and problems in it are the people who work on the front lines.’
Pour-Sanae also said that many jobs would be lost at a cost to lower income communities.
‘Over 150,000 jobs statewide would be lost,’ Pour-Sanae said. ‘The problems that Schwarzenegger’s proposals are bringing up are very bad for the community. They will hurt mostly lower income people.’
In addition, Pour-Sanae said that, ‘The quality of the services will go down dramatically. Because the public employees are better compensated, the county is able to attract more qualified candidates. The idea of making it more cost-effective by eliminating benefits and lowering salaries dramatically is just going to hurt the services and therefore hurt the communities that receive the services.’
Pour-Sanae also warns that privatizing services could cause corruption.
‘If you have these services being delivered by a corporation or some kind of business, we have no idea what happens behind closed doors,’ Pour-Sanae said.
The bipartisan CPR Commission’s public hearing at UCI was the last of eight such hearings that were held across the state. The commission is responsible for reviewing and receiving public comment on the plan. In total, eight hearings produced comments from more than 3,500 citizens and over 500 pages of testimony.
The commission was able to come to terms on a 15-page outline for some of the goals that Schwarzenegger put forth. However, it did not approve of some of the recommendations, including a requirement of volunteer service for students attending state colleges and universities, and the recommendation of eliminating the Student Aid Commission and shifting the administration of financial aid programs to individual colleges.
Pour-Sanae said that the union would wait until the governor introduces his new budget in January before taking any further action.