SACRAMENTO, CA - There's a lot of grumbling among employees around the headquarters for the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
For almost a year, they've had Fridays off as part of a plan to save money for financially strapped California.
But the days off have also created a mess -- a huge backlog of DMV records, drivers licenses and identification cards.
DMV spokesman Mike Marando said DMV officials tried to reduce the workload by allowing employees to volunteer to work overtime on Saturdays.
"We had them come in on three particular Saturdays in December, December 5, 12 and 19," Marando said.
Apparently it wasn't enough.
On Dec. 28, workers who handle crash reports, financial responsibility records, drivers licenses and ID cards received a new edict. Under the new order, the DMV said that due to the backlog of work and lack of volunteers for Saturday overtime, "management has no recourse but to implement Self-Directed Furlough Fridays."
The statement added those workers "will be required to work each Friday until advised otherwise."
Workers will now work every Friday, including Furlough Fridays, and accrue furlough time. Officials explained they'll still be docked three days a month, but they will take furlough days at a later date.
"Typically, we get our license and identification cards within seven to 10 days," Marando said. "With the furloughs and the backlog, an additional week to 10 days has been pretty much the norm."
Many DMV workers don't like the plan.
"I feel like I have a leash around my neck," Irma Banuelos said. "It's come to work. It's come to work and if you don't, you're in trouble."
Banuelos also admitted they've got a lot of work to do. She said, "I'm tired when I get home. I'm on my feet and I'm running all day."
"We have lots and lots of work to do. But we didn't dig the hole," said Cliff Brandt. "I'm 66 years old and I came back to work because if I don't, I can't pay for my car . . . Nobody should work and not get paid. I think they used to have a word for it. It's called slavery."
"We're so far behind. We're way behind," said another employee who works in a unit that handles suspended licenses. "People want to clear their records so they can get their licenses back. It's important and they don't want to wait."
When asked if employees will still volunteer to work on Saturdays, the woman said, "Yes, but it's up to the individual."
Marando said the DMV issues "more than 1.1 million drivers licenses and 500,000 ID cards every year. With over 40 million records in our system, we always look for new and innovative ways to improve on the process."
by Karen Massie, firstname.lastname@example.org