Marching to Protect Public Services in the Golden State

March 11, 2010

Irene Gonzalez
Irene Gonzalez (Photo credit: John Har)

Hundreds of California public employees, teachers and their supporters spoke up loud and clear last week at a Los Angeles rally against corrosive state budget cuts. Later that same day, a group of determined activists began a 48-day “March for California’s Future” that will take the fight to preserve public services directly to lawmakers.

Starting in Los Angeles, members of the Coalition of LA City Unions, includingAFSCME Council 36, joined activists from the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and several other public service organizations in a kickoff rally at a downtown church to highlight the importance of public services and education.

Many of the activists then traveled to Bakersfield for another demonstration and launched a 260-mile trek to the Capitol in Sacramento, following in the footsteps of the late California civil rights and labor leader Cesar Chavez.

Activist Irene Gonzalez, vice president on the executive board of L.A. County Deputy Probation Officers Local 685 (AFSCME Council 36), will walk the entire route. The 36-year-old Baldwin Park resident is a senior investigator aid and also a reserve deputy probation officer for L.A. County.

Marching for the future
MARCHING FOR THEIR FUTURE – California public employees begin a 48-day march from Bakersfield to Sacramento to save public services. (Photo credit: John Harte)

“California has always been seen as a place where anything was possible, if you worked hard enough. Unfortunately, equality of opportunity in the Golden State has diminished,” said Gonzalez, “and if the budget cuts being contemplated at the state level are allowed to happen, the California dream will vanish for generations of Californians.  That’s why I’m marching.”

She and her fellow walkers will be joined at times by hundreds of firefighters, healthcare workers, in-home care providers, police officers, educators and students who hope to restore fair taxes and rebuild California’s economy, now burdened by a $20 billion budget deficit.

Learn more about the March for California’s Future, and check out these news stories in The Bakersfield CalifornianCalifornia Progress ReportThe Huffington Postand this AFL-CIO blog post.

Also, hear Gonzalez in this Workers Independent News radio report.

Next: Restoring the California Dream
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