Workers protest state furloughs

May 5, 2009 3:51:40 PM PDT
Dozens of state employees rallied Tuesday in protest of mandatory furloughs.Angry workers say now is not the time to force the furloughs. Governor Beverly Perdue announced the plan last week along with the news of a more than $3 billion budget shortfall.

Workers stood within shouting distance of the legislative building because they wanted state lawmakers to hear their voices.

"No furloughs, no furloughs," the crowd shouted.

"They can't stand the furlough," DOT worker Paul Nobles exclaimed. "I got a child going to college, he got a new baby. We can't do without no money!"

Governor Perdue says she understands the frustration of state employees and says the protestors have the right to speak out.

"Nobody liked the furloughs any less than I did," Perdue said. "It's not a decision I wanted to make. It's my constitutional responsibility to pay the bills, and I'm always going to do that. North Carolina's always done that."

DOT worker Bonita Henderson is already working two jobs. "There's other stuff that can be cut besides our pay," she said.

She sees the governor's point of view to a point -- after losing 10 hours of pay.

"I've always supported her, and I'm trying to support her decision, but at the same time it does hurt," Henderson said.

After about 30 minutes in the rain, the rally wound down and workers crossed the street for a face to face meeting with legislators.

But will lawmakers get the message?

I certainly hope so," one worker said. "We're going to speak loud enough to them!"

Representative Nelson Dollar addressed the crowd and then individual lawmakers met with protestors one-on-one.

Meanwhile, Perdue urged Council of State members to voluntarily accept a pay cut equal to 0.5 percent of their annual salaries as a sign of solidarity with furloughed workers.

Perdue said she didn't want to see a council member singled out for keeping their full pay.

Perdue spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson said all council members and elected judges have agreed to take a pay cut. Several council members already had agreed to do so earlier.


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