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The California State Baby Boomer Employee Ethos -- "Fuck You"

2011 may be the Year of the Rabbit, but in my family, 2013 is the "Year of the Retirement." In 2013, my older sister and oldest brother will both retire from their employment with the State of California. My brother will have over 40 years of service, my sister over 30. I think I can safely say that the workplace ethos for California state employees of their generation -- Baby Boomers who came of age in the '70's -- can be summed up in a Cee Lo Green song:

"Fuck you."

After years of enduring reorganization after reorganization, watching the incompetent rise to the top such that they ended up being "stupervised," receiving warrants instead of paychecks, dealing with furloughs, pay cuts, and threats to pension and health care benefits banked on more than 30 years ago, and surviving good and bad governors starting with and, ironically enough, ending with Jerry Brown, most California state workers of my brother and sister's generation have had enough. Despite being good at what they do and happy to do it, they no longer want to work in an environment in which state workers are considered to be a tiny step above Bernie Madoff and fair game for political gamesmanship, especially if there is no incremental benefit to their pension or other retirement benefits for continuing to hang in there.

In their minds, a deal's a deal. They came to work for the state when they were young, realizing that what they gave up in salary they balanced with job security and benefits, and they came to work and did what they were supposed to do to get what they were promised. Now, thirty-plus years in, the state wants to re-examine the deal. In their minds, and in the minds of many state workers with tons of service years, they're thinking, "Fuck you. I'll retire first."

And retire they have. Most large California state agencies have been having retirement parties almost every other week, I hear tell.

So, in 2013, my brother and my sister will retire from state service. Not stop working altogether, mind you, but retire from state service. Both of them intend to use the next phase of their lives to do something different and new.

Although they're not party types, I would love to give them a joint retirement party to celebrate their combined 70-plus years of service.

And the first song I'd have the deejay play?

You guessed it: "Fuck you."

Hear it here.


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