Join the Eligibility Worker Industry Council on Monday, March 19, at 5:45 p.m. at your local SEIU 521 office. The council is open to all account clerks, job specialists, office assistants, eligibility workers and all the members that help provide these essential services to the public who needs them. Call your local office to RSVP!
When cuts in the state budget threatened one of our most successful programs that puts Californians back to work, SEIU 521 eligibility workers stood up.
And the testimony they gave in Sacramento saved CalWORKS!
“Realizing that we were able to make a difference, it’s overwhelming,” said Jennifer Jensen, a job specialist from Fresno County who testified about the impact the budget cuts would have had.
CalWORKS helps get people to work so they don’t depend on cash aid from the government, Jensen explained. But the budget cuts would have tightened eligibility and made it impossible for many families to succeed in the program, leaving more of California’s children in poverty and more adults out of work.
Eligibility Worker Shirley Dillard told the Assembly budget committee that the cuts would have a severe impact.
“These are people just like us, they’re working people, they’ve never been on assistance before,” she said. “You can’t do this to people when there are no jobs out there.”
“I was talking from my heart and from experience. They felt the passion I had for my clients.”
While Dillard and Jensen spoke to the budget committee, Job Specialist Lorenzo Lambaren and Eligibility Worker Belinda Oceguera, both from Fresno County, and Erica Payne, from Tulare County, joined them to lobby individual legislators.
“It was important to speak for those that can’t speak for themselves,” Jensen said.
Jensen came away excited that the voice of the member matters.
“The people in Sacramento hearing our voices, it works,” she said.
We are the ones that make the system work, and we’re the ones who make reform happen!