Friday, July 22, 2016
JACKSON Standing in the sweltering July heat, city workers, union organizers and their interns gathered this morning on the steps of Jackson City Hall to speak out once again about the city-mandated furlough Fridays that have been in effect since last October. The furlough day was created to fill a $15-million budget deficit for the City's 2015 fiscal-year budget. State Rep. Kathy Sykes, D-Jackson, said the City has to do a better job of prioritizing the budget so that the hardest workers aren't affected the most. She also pointed out that less income for workers to spend also affects the Jackson's economy, which in turn hurts the budget for the fiscal year.
"The point is, we have to do something about prioritizing our budgets. We need to streamline where we can, and we need to treat out workers with dignity and respect, because they are the ones that make the wheel turn for us," Sykes said. "We have to do better by all of our workers."
Some people at the press conference also mentioned the inhumane environment they believe some City workers endure. This summer is one of the hottest on record, and some said the City is not taking the safety of employees seriously. One worker, they said, is currently in the Intensive Care Unit after suffering a heat stroke while working.
In July, Ward 2 Councilman Melvin Priester Jr. told the Jackson Free Press that the furloughs are here to stay for the foreseeable future.
"By this math, the furlough is not going to go away," Priester Jr. said during a phone interview July 7. "We all know that we are going to have to make some very bad choices to get the budget balanced this year."
Claudia Brunson, a summer intern at the Mississippi Alliance of State Workers/ Communications Workers of America, says that MASE/CWA's goal is to make sure workers' voices are heard, and to let elected officials and citizens of Jackson know that every penny counts for those who serve the City.
"The work, the issue they want to have reconciled needs to come from the workers because what we do here at MASE CWA is organize. We can't go and fix the problems that they are facing at work," Brunson told the Jackson Free Press.
"It has to be the worker doing the work for themselves, bringing these issues to the forefront, starting it up with their supervisors, with their boss, telling them what the issues are, why they're unsatisfied with what's going on, in hopes that eventually that they'll make enough noise so that change will come to the workplace, and that they are able to work in an environment in which they feel respected and valued."
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