California state employees are the ones feeling expendable. They are planning on using their mandated furlough day Friday to protest at theaters across the state showing the movie The Expendables.
The action-adventure flick with an all-star cast features a rare cameo by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Last month the governor reinstituted "furlough Fridays," meaning all state offices will be closed three Fridays a month, and workers won't be paid for those days. Their first furlough day is probably Friday, opening day of the movie.
A judge's ruling may temporarily bar the unpaid days off, but the governor's office is appealing the ruling.
No Hope of Digging Out
The state is faced with a $19.1 billion deficit and no hope of digging out. In announcing the new furloughs, Schwarzenegger said that California is close to "a fiscal meltdown."
Jim Zamora, a spokesman for the Service Employees International Union Local 1000, said 150,000 state workers are mad that Schwarzenegger is restoring his movie career while they have no options. He called it a "slap in the face." The campaign's slogan is "Tell Arnold We're Not Expendable."
Schwarzenegger's brief role is unpaid and won't be included in the credits, according to Aaron McLear, the governor's spokesman.
"Furlough days are not something we want to do, but until we have a workable budget we really have no choice," McLear said in an interview with DailyFinance.
In a recent speech before the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Fresno, Schwarzenegger took some hard questions about when the furloughs will stop and what he is doing to make sacrifices.
"I make certain sacrifices. I'm working for seven years without getting any salary. My salary, I never receive, I just give it back to the state because that's not why I'm in this job," he said in a transcript provided by the Sacramento Bee. "So that's why I feel, you know, that the least thing I can do is work for seven years and not think about my movie career or the $30 million a movie and all of those kinds of things.
"But forget that. I've made enough money because of California and because of America. So let's go and do something."
The movie, which opens Friday, is directed by Sylvester Stallone, who also has a role in the film. Other stars include Jet Li, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin, Randy Couture, Giselle Itie and Eric Roberts.
The movie plot is about how an elite team of mercenaries known as "the Expendables" overthrow a dictator in a fictional South American country.