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Labor is out-organized at budget protest

January 10, 2011 |  4:55 pm

If today’s budget protests are any indication, organized labor needs to get, well, organized.

After Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his budget, a handful of labor leaders gathered on the north steps of the Capitol to talk about the concerns of workers and recipients of In-Home Supportive Services and other programs that would see steep cuts. They didn’t get very far.

George Popyack, of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, was explaining how shifting state services to local governments could compromise quality when he was drowned out by hundreds of students descending on the steps for a separate demonstration in support of single-payer healthcare. Reporters and a camera crew turned to observe the students, who were chanting through bullhorns and banging drums.

“Well, we just lost the camera,” Popyack said.

Student demonstrators then unfurled a banner and literally marched through AFSCME’s news conference, forcing the labor leaders to move off the steps. A highway patrolman asked the union officials to produce their permit to demonstrate. They didn’t have one, so the group reassembled on the sidewalk, away from the healthcare rally.

One reporter instructed Popyack to hone his pitch to 30 seconds.

We are very upset with the human misery that these cuts are going to make, in all the programs where our members work,” he said. “State realignment is a very tricky piece of business. We’ve seen realignment before. That often means programs are put at the local level, and the funding isn’t there.”

RELATED:

Lawmaker's bid to restore pay for Legislature hits hurdle

Document: Complete text of Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget

The Times' Budget Balancer: Try your hand at balancing the state budget

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

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