George is a Greens Keeper at the Balboa Park Golf Course for the City of San Diego.
He is 28 years old, and for the past 7 years he has worked to keep the City’s public golf courses beautiful and functional for all San Diego residents and tourists to enjoy.
His day begins at 5:30 a.m. During his shift he may do everything from mowing the greens and tees, to maintaining his equipment. George takes a great deal of pride in his work. Most people don’t know that the grass on a golf course is as short as onetenth of an inch. George has to be precise in his work to be sure he doesn’t cut more than one third of that “tenth of an inch” – or the grass could dry out and become brown. That mistake would be noticeable for days and could affect the prestige of the course.
George enjoys working with his hands and really loves his job. He feels a sense of accomplishment when he sees the looks on people’s faces as they play the golf course. “They tell us all the time how happy they are with our work and how much they appreciate the quality of our services,” says George, “the pristine conditions we maintain on the course aren’t just appealing to the eye but create a great playing experience.”
Though George is single he finds it difficult to make ends meet on his salary from the City. “Living in San Diego isn’t cheap and we haven’t had a cost-of-living increase in 7 years. I have to make a lot of sacrifices. I try to eat healthy foods but that gets expensive. Sometimes I have to choose to buy a $5 pizza – which will cover meals for 2 days – instead of buying fresh fruits and vegetables. Recently I had to “sell back” my vacation time so I could by new tires for my car and I’ll have to do the same for new brakes. This isn’t just about me. I have co-workers who do the same work as me but have families to support. If I have trouble making ends meet, imagine them, how are they able to feed and clothe their kids?
“I am active in my union because I believe every worker should be able to make a decent living and stand up for themselves when their rights are violated or they are taken advantage of. All workers should be able to provide for their family, that isn’t a privilege, it’s a right.
“My dream is to save enough money to have a little emergency fund and maybe one day own a home. Someday I’d like to go to a local music concert or a play at the theater. This Labor Day I would ask you not to underappreciate the contributions of your civil servants. We as City employees give our all every day to provide quality services to the residents of San Diego.”
Story courtesy of the Interfaith Council for Worker Justice of San Diego.