Skip to comments.Scranton's Public Workers Now Paid Minimum Wage
Posted on 07/08/2012 3:05:32 PM PDT by kingattax
The city of Scranton, Pa., sent out paychecks to its employees Friday, like it does every two weeks. But this time the checks were much smaller than usual. Mayor Chris Doherty has reduced everyone's pay including his own to the state's minimum wage: $7.25 an hour.
Doherty says his city has run out of money.
Scranton has had financial troubles for a couple of decades the town has been losing population since the end of World War II. But the budget problems became more serious in recent months as the mayor and the city council fought over how to balance the budget.
Doherty wants to raise taxes to fill a $16.8-million gap. The city council wants to take a different approach and borrow money. City council members did not respond to NPR's requests to discuss the dispute.
"I'm trying to do the best I can with the limited amount of funds that I have," Doherty says, "I want the employees to get paid. Our people work hard our police and fire I just don't have enough money and I can't print it in the basement."
After paying workers Friday, the city had only about $5,000 left in the bank. More money flowed into city accounts that day, but it was still not enough to pay the $1 million the city still owes to its nearly 400 employees.
Scranton's public workers received a few days' warning this was coming. John Judge, a firefighter and president of the International Association of Firefighters, Local 60, typically receives about $1,500 every two weeks, after deductions. On Friday his check was less than $600 before deductions.
"Don't know how I'm going to pay bills at home. I may be able to stave it off for a little while," Judge says. "[The] kids aren't going to be able to do certain activities this summer maybe we're not going to be able to go on vacation."
The firefighters' union, along with the police and public works unions, have taken the city to court. Lackawanna County Judge Michael Barrasse issued an injunction, essentially agreeing with the unions that the city was breaking the law, but Doherty says he doesn't have another choice. Despite the injunction, he had the city send out paychecks based on minimum wage.
The unions plan to be back in court first thing Monday morning to ask the judge to hold Doherty in contempt.
There's been no love lost between Doherty and the public employee unions because of this battle; they've already spent the past decade in a legal dispute over pay that went all the way to the state supreme court. Both sides come to this latest battle with plenty of baggage and hard feelings. But with nearly 400 city workers receiving a fraction of the pay they typically get, pressure is building to resolve the issue soon.
Don’t know, but it sounds like a stunt. Once the tax money comes in, they’ll pay them back.
Allentown, located in the same general region of the state, and hometown of our other U.S. Senator, Pat Toomey, has a similar industrial history to Scranton but does not elect many Democrat politicians.
I suppose it is just a coincidence that Allentown is a well-governed and fiscally sound community.
Interesting...moreso because he’s a Democrat. And Scranton is Casey Country. I wonder if Tom Smith (R candidate for Senate) will pay a visit..
You can’t get blood out of a turnip. Without a court injunction.
when re they gonna cut their welfare benefits?
Wait, you mean getting paid a fat salary with generous benefits with the ability to retire at age 48 with full pension and benefits isn’t a Human Right?
A quick internet search shows that Christopher Doherty is a democrat who loves trees and hates babies.
Basically, they will never get it until they are strung up and hanged.
The city is out of MONEY. What is a judge going to do?
Conjure it up?
Raising taxes won’t increase revenue for more than a nanosecond.
Join the club, you whining son of a...
Deal with it!
The City is broke!
Any Union contract is worth nothing more used toilet paper.
Be happy you're getting the money you are and even the mayor is getting the same amount.
I wonder how many public union employee were laid off to try meet the budget shortfall.....my guess none...
They should jump over into the privare sector, it’s doing fine, according to Joe Weisenrthal as well as BO.
Los Angeles and San Francisco should do the same thing.
I think plugs was born there.
Columnist with a little more about the city’s current budget plans:
“... the city doesn’t own its stormwater management system and never did. This matters because selling it to the Scranton Sewer Authority for $5 million was a central component of Mayor Chris Doherty’s financial recovery plan. He apparently did not know that the SSA owns the system, making it a tough sell, even for a salesman as slick as Mr. Doherty.
The city council “supermajority” led by President Janet Evans was apparently as clueless as the administration. The impossible sale of an asset the city doesn’t own was the lone element of Mr. Doherty’s plan that Mrs. Evans and Co. supported.”
“You cant get blood out of a turnip. Without a court injunction.”
The thing of it is, you can’t get blood out of a turnip even with a court injunction.