Resources & advice for displaced court workers

Posted on September 25, 2011

17


And in the distance an ill wind blows…

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Introduction

At the conclusion of this week, many layoff notices will take effect courtesy of the Judicial Council of California so that most of those conflicted members can sit in shiny, plush new offices in a few years when their new courthouses are complete.  We liken the losses of these jobs to workers displaced by foreign competition.

Why?

Well lets start with the framing of most every new courthouse. All of these new courthouses will have a steel frame and that steel will likely be outsourced to China where it is cheapest to produce. Long beach courthouse is being financed by a French firm and being constructed by a Canadian firm. Mammoth lakes courthouse was built by a Nevada office of a construction firm. The Stockton Courthouse was designed by a Seattle firm. CCMS is being written by an army of Indians imported to do the work under H1 visas.

Our Judicial Council is creating thousands of jobs, sending billions of your tax dollars outside the state and outside the country and is projected to spend some 6.5 billion dollars of your tax money doing so, all while services are cut to the public, courtrooms shut down and dedicated employees are laid off statewide. They also want more of your tax dollars to do more of the same.

We owe thanks to Chief Justice George and Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and that small group of Judicial Council insiders who have run this branch for some 14+ years for investing in everyone elses economy, including Arizona and Nebraska for CCTC operations.

They can’t send your tax dollars out of state fast enough.

It is because of these administrative choices made solely by the Judicial Council that we would encourage displaced workers to work hard to displace the Judicial Council leadership as the state legislature gave 82 million dollars worth of choices and the Judicial Council chose Chinese, Indian, Nevada, Arizona, Canadian, French and Nebraska jobs over yours. This is exactly what you get when there are no laws wrapped around judicial branch purchasing and construction activities.

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Resources and Advice

Simply put, you’re about to enter what some term the worst jobs market since the great depression.

Your first step should be to apply for unemployment benefits which can be done online here. https://eapply4ui.edd.ca.gov/  Because jobless benefits do not commence for a few weeks, don’t wait to file your unemployment claim. If you have any military background whatsoever, you will want to declare that you are a veteran, which will open up a host of other valuable benefits to you and you will likely be assigned a Veteran counselor under a special program paid for by the federal government that will inform you of all of the additional benefits and assistance available to veterans. Take advantage of everything because you already paid for it with your years of dedicated service.

The good news and the bad news Currently, with a combination of available federal unemployment extensions due to California’s high unemployment rate, you may qualify for as many as 99 weeks of unemployment benefits with a maximum weekly benefit of 450.00 per week, dependent upon your previous earnings. That is the good news. The bad news is that both the republican and the tea parties are alive and well and pushing hard to eliminate unemployment benefits, including state benefits at both the state and national level. In their race to the very bottom, Michigan with an obscene unemployment rate and cities that are turning into ghost towns has opted to reduce unemployment benefits to twenty weeks, with a maximum weekly benefit of $275.00. Currently the tea party and the republican party are working aggressively in Washington DC to eliminate all federal unemployment extensions. If they are successful, your benefits will be reduced to as little as 26 weeks.

Downsize your life now. Budgeting at or less than 40% of your previous earnings and working out strict budgeting is now critical. Anything that costs you money going out the door should be downsized and you should start now. Is your cable or satellite bill $300 a month for every channel in existence? Reduce it to basic cable or opt for Netflix. Have a super fast internet connection? Downsize the connection speed and save yourself money. Shop around for cheaper cellular and landline services. Sell anything material that costs you a monthly payment. Boats, Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles, anything with a monthly payment also probably has an insurance payment associated with it. Shop for new, less expensive car insurance and homeowners insurance without compromising your coverage.

Shop Smart Now. You might have noticed a sharp increase in food prices over the last two years. You might want to reconsider the places you normally shop. Consider Grocery Outlet, FoodMax, Big Lots, PacknSave, WalMart and Target and ethnic supermarkets for your food shopping needs. While not as convenient or as stylish as Safeway, Lucky’s or Andronico’s, you will find that food is expensive where you normally shop. In the San Francisco Bay Area, consider one of the more than 300 food pantries or food banks that will give you free grocery items. Don’t be too proud to take advantage of these programs. These days, literally thousands of Californians who previously made 100K or more are getting their groceries from food pantries or food banks. If you qualify, apply for food aid. While we would be inclined to say apply for food stamps we understand that this is now a debit card without the stigma of food stamps attached to them. On that note, your unemployment benefits will also be delivered on a BofA debit card.  Shop smart. Use coupons. Use online savings programs like those provided by Safeway. Food aid benefits are limited to a whopping $4.72 per day per person in your household so utilizing food banks and food pantries becomes essential. No one should go hungry and please don’t let your pride get in the way of you or your children’s nutritional needs. If you have young children, consider applying for WIC if you qualify. http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/wicworks/Pages/AboutWICandHowtoApply.aspx

Avoid burning through your savings or retirement. While it may seem tempting  to try to maintain your lifestyle by burning through your savings and then your retirement, there are tax penalties that you will pay on the retirement and it may take you significantly longer to find a job than you anticipate.  This is where downsizing your life now becomes important to prevent this from inadvertently happening.

Mortgage Assistance. Because you are about to become unemployed, you may likely qualify for limited mortgage assistance at both a state and federal level. Start first with your mortgage holder to see what programs they have available but also consider the state program that has been federally funded to the tune of two billion dollars to keep you in your home. http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/ will make up to six mortgage payments or get your mortgage reinstated if you qualify.

Job Search  Do you have a resume already completed? Is it a good, solid, easily read and understood resume? Do you have references lined up? Consider looking up examples of what are considered professional resumes online and format your resume appropriately. Don’t be afraid to have others critique your resume. You might consider customizing your resume for the job you are looking for and keeping multiple versions on-hand to highlight specific experiences over others. You don’t have Microsoft Word and can’t afford it? Consider Google Docs as it’s free and allows you to download the resume in a wide variety of formats, including word (.doc) and adobe portable document format (.pdf) If you have any type of smartphone, get a GMail account for your job search, download the app and get GMail delivered to your portable device at no extra charge.

Create a weekly interview goal. Winning an interview is the first step in landing a job. Employers are bombarded with resumes for every opening. Your resume needs to stand out to be counted and you need to stand out by researching prospective employers. Be prepared to write cover letters and jump through personality testing and answering essay questions just to get an interview. Sign up and utilize every job search tool at your disposal because jobs can no longer be had via newspaper ads. Currently, we see a few court and AOC resumes posted on Craigslist statewide, a few on monster.com and a few on DICE for computer professionals. Don’t be complacent in your job search. Be aggressive and get creative and start looking now. Were you planning some time off between your next job? Trust us, it will happen if you like it or not so don’t plan to take any time off. Your job search should already be underway.

Consider being an advocate for Judicial Branch reforms. You have a lot of good ideas. One that was recently sent to us stated “The CHP issues tickets that say you must appear in our court within 21 days. We don’t even have the capacity to process citations within that time frame so the court traffic lines needlessly swell with people rushing in to take care of something we can’t help them with. How come they can’t change your appearance to 90 days?” That was a good question. How come we can’t change your mandatory appearance to 90 days? Maybe someone can answer this traffic clerks question for all of us. There are many other reforms you can assist the people with making as well and many of those reforms would go a long way towards protecting other judicial branch jobs, particularly in the outsourcing arena.

Training Benefits are available through EDD for persons collecting UI. These benefits allow workers who are out of work in “low demand” occupations to receive $$ to attend approved training in “high demand” occupations, while continuing to collect their full UI benefits. The training you select can be either to enhance your current core job skills or to obtain training in a completely new field, and I believe the benefits can extend for up to 24 months. Most often training can be obtained at your local community college. You have to apply for these training benefits separately from your UI application at EDD. Please read the EDD publication on Training Benefits for more details.

If going back to school is not a good option for you, but you want to enlarge your network in a meaningful way, and generate a lot of good Karma too, please consider volunteering at a local legal or social services nonprofit organization. These organizations desperately need and would appreciate your knowledge and skills, and you wll be able to keep active and involved while looking for work There are legal services organizations serving the elderly, at risk youth, people with AIDS, etc. etc.

And nonprofit legal services organizations not only have volunteer legal professional volunteers with whom you will be interacting on a daily basis, but each of these organizations also has a Board of Directors comprised of legal professionals and community leaders who may also help you in finding job leads.

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Displaced worker assistance for court workers provided by our courts or the AOC/Judicial Council

None reported. If you know of what assistance is being offered to employees of the AOC or your court, kindly let us know and we will post it here.