(From Justice Speaks May/June 2009)
As the banks and big corporations receive trillions in bailout money, governments are balancing budgets on workers’ backs. Public workers are under attack! There is no fat left on services. Any cuts will be cuts to the bone and still city manager Tom Bonfield recommends kicking 35 workers to the curb and eliminating their jobs, plus no pay-for-performance merit increases, longevity cuts, 2% cut to 401K contributions, and benefit cuts to part-time employees working less than 30 hours per week.
If cuts are necessary, then it should happen at the administrative levels only. Fire and police workers should be treated the same as other front-line city employees who provide essential services. Any stimulus money should be used for public jobs, not more privatization. The city manager proposed that the City of Durham’s Fund Balance, Rainy Day Fund, will not be used to balance the budget, “It will be maintained at 11%, but may increase using savings from FY2009.”
Well, HELLO. . . IT’S RAINING!! In fact, it’s a severe thunderstorm bordering on hurricane conditions for front-line workers! We are certainly being forced to go into our “rainy day funds” or savings, if we have them, to balance our household budgets or to keep from slipping two or three months behind in our bills. We’ve had to pay for necessities for our family with high interest credit cards and, yes, even from time to time, visit the dreaded cash advance/check cashing establishments. If workers’ rainy day funds can get drained to 0%, why do the city administrators refuse to even consider lowering the city’s below 11%? The pain should be shared!
Workers came out to the Durham City Council Meeting on May 18 to show our opposition to the budget being balanced on our backs! That we are not happy just to have a job! That we see attacks on co-workers as attacks on all of us! More will join the efforts of the Durham City Workers Union Chapter of UE 150, the NC Public Service Workers Union.