The Assault on Working People in California

All across California, an outright assault is being waged against working people. Currently, the official unemployment rate for the state is 12.5 percent. In eight counties, the unemployment rate is higher than 20 percent. An average of about ten people are applying for every job – in some industries it’s over 20 people. And for those workers who still have jobs, thousands of them are facing layoffs and pay cuts.

In Los Angeles, 4000 city workers are being issued layoff notices. Many of the remaining 48,500 workers will be reshuffled to new departments, with new hours, and new contracts most likely with lower wages.

In addition to the city workers, Los Angeles Unified School District recently announced 5,200 layoffs of teachers and staff. These are layoffs in one of the most underfunded and understaffed districts in the state. It’s hard not to see these layoffs as further steps in plans to close down dozens of schools, plans the school district has been discussing for the past several months.

In the Bay Area, Toyota’s automotive plant in Fremont, NUMMI, is set to be closed on April 1. All 4,700 workers are to be fired. This will be a devastating blow to the people of Fremont. Also, an estimated 25,000 workers throughout California who supply parts to the factory are likely to lose their jobs as well.

In San Francisco, in an attempt to decrease the city’s $522 million budget deficit, the city plans massive layoffs and pay cuts. The city’s school district already approved 900 layoffs of teachers and staff.

And now the city plans to layoff over 17,000 city workers and then rehire them at reduced hours and reduced pay. This is a ridiculous plan. The amount of work is not going to decrease. This will just mean workers are pushed to do more work in less time for less money.

And at the same time, the Mayor’s office and city officials are carrying out a vicious smear campaign against MUNI bus drivers and workers.

Similar to the lies spread about BART workers over the summer, the politicians and the media have begun to blame the city’s budget problems on the bus drivers. They claim drivers are paid too much.

They try to pit drivers and riders against each other by threatening riders with more fare increases, blaming the salaries of the drivers. The goal of city officials is to go ahead with massive pay cuts, layoffs, bus route cancellations, and still increase bus fares.

All together, across the state, these layoffs and cutbacks impact hundreds of thousands of workers and teachers and students and their families. What are thousands of families to do when parents lose their jobs? What are students supposed to do when their teachers are fired or their schools close? What are bus riders supposed to do when their routes are cancelled?

If there was ever any question as to who is on our side, that question has been answered. It’s definitely not the politicians nor the bosses they represent. It’s the hundreds of thousands of ordinary working people and their families across this state. We are all impacted by these cutbacks, and only united together can we wage a real fightback.

The bosses and their politicians have sent their message loud and clear. Their line has been drawn. They are willing to ride out this crisis on our backs, taking from us as much as they can, making us pay for their crisis.

In the newspapers, on the television, all over the media, they’ve announced their plans for us. The question now is – are we going to let them get away with it?