Scranton Slashes Government Workers' Pay To Minimum Wage

Scranton PA minimum wage

By Lily Kuo

Firefighters, police and other public workers in a Pennsylvania city saw their wages slashed to minimum wage rates on Friday, in a move by the cash-strapped city to balance its budget, city officials said.

Scranton's public workers would be paid $7.25 an hour "indefinitely," starting with Friday's paychecks as part of a plan initiated by the mayor, Chris Doherty. Scranton, a city of about 76,000 in the northeast of the state, is the latest Pennsylvania city in serious financial trouble. The Scranton Times-Tribune recently reported that the city faces a $16.8 million gap in the 2012 budget.

City leaders in the state's capital of Harrisburg, meanwhile, were prepared to seek bankruptcy protection but were thwarted last week by state legislators who extended a bankruptcy filing ban until Nov. 30.

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Both cities are part of a larger trend of municipalities struggling to balance their budgets. Stockton, California filed for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy on June 28, the largest U.S. city to do so.

The move by Doherty, a Democrat, slashed wages of about 390 public workers who had been earning between $19 to $36 an hour, according to a lawsuit. The mayor's wages as well as members of the City Council were also cut to minimum wage.

"What he did was give everyone minimum wage because that was what he was able to give, as far as our finances are concerned," said Roseann Novembrino, Scranton's city controller.

Doherty's office did not respond to requests for comment.

Others said the move was sudden and would unfairly strain the finances for many workers who already live paycheck to paycheck.

"We're running into burning buildings, the police are fighting criminals and we're getting paid a rate of $7.25 an hour. It's ridiculous," said John Judge, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local Union No. 60, one of three unions who filed the lawsuit against Doherty and the city.

Doherty could be held in contempt of court for the wage cuts, the unions said, since a county court ruled on Friday that the reductions could not go into effect until a trial could be held.

The unions' lawsuit, filed on Monday, accuses the mayor of acting unilaterally and that the wage cut would have a "devastating impact" on employees, hurting their ability to maintain a decent standard of living.

Judge said the lawyer for the three unions was drafting a petition to hold Doherty in contempt of the injunction, to be filed in court on Monday.

Under Pennsylvania state law, the workers cannot strike, Judge said.

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July 11 2012 at 7:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They can find employment in the private sector where pensions and sick days, etc. are a part of the past.

July 11 2012 at 5:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The economic disaster sounds like what's going on in NYC, quiet as its kept.

July 11 2012 at 4:57 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

all the firefighters andpolice and all others should just quit and let the states repub. govs. do their jobs since they are the ones who cut all the funding.....

July 11 2012 at 4:25 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
John H Unkle Jr

dhappycampers ........ you should run for President everything you said is true and would work .

July 11 2012 at 2:35 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

The following steps could resolve the state of the economy in the U.S
1. Remove all tax loopholes used by corporations and the very wealthy so that they pay their fairshare of taxes. Collect all taxes due. Many corporations manufacture their products in other countries using cheap labor but make a fortune in the U.S. They pay very little in taxes because they use all the tax loopholes to avoid paying. Eliminate NAFTA and implement triple taxes on all imports coming in from any other country even if made by a U.S. corp. elsewhere. Corporations can afford to pay CEO millions they can afford to pay proper taxes and wages in the U.S. See how quick they would bring the jobs back here.
2. Immediately end all foreign aid given to other countries period. Remove all military personnel from other countries. Let other countries handle their own problems. You can't solve others problems when you need to fix the ones here. Use excess military personnel to rid crime in this country.
3. Immediately remove all illegal aliens from this country irregardless of age or circumstance. Anyone here illegally is entitled to nothing. Seek out all employers of illegal aliens and charge them with criminal charges and huge fines for employing these people. If they can't get work and don't get any benefits being here they will not sneak into the country. Add several thousand new border patrol and immigration employees to implement.
4. Implement term limits of 4 years or less for every elected or appointed official. Change politics with campaign limits on contributions, media releases and debates to minimum amounts.
5. Stop issuing employment visas for ten years so that U.S. citizens can obtain jobs which are being filled with foreigneer workers.
6. Reduce all government employee positions by 25% and eliminate early retirement for all. Everyone eligible for retirement at age 65 or older. Nothing based on years of service. Age only.
7. End all unnecessary spending for the President on down. No more frills or luxuary anything. No excessive travel or spending accounts, pork projects, etc.
8. Mandate that all items used by federal, state, or local governments be made in the U.S. only.
9. Collect repayment of all outstanding debts from other countries immediately.
10. Increase minimum wage across the country to $11.00 per hour for all ages and jobs.
11. Require all welfare recipients from age 18 to 65 to perform work that equals at least 75% of the amount of their benefits while they are seeking employment or no welfare benefits. Welfare offices could dictate available work like cleaning up public places, providing child care in daycare centers for welfare kidworking in homeless shelters, animal shelters, etc. These jobs could have a single value placed on them like $9.00 per hour. This would encourage people to get a job since they wouldn't be getting something for nothing and a minimum wage job would pay more then welfare benefits.

This is just a start!

July 11 2012 at 2:26 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Mr Doherty If I was a ctiy worker and Guess what in November What The Southerners used to say

July 11 2012 at 12:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to fred98591's comment

and what would you him to pay them with? The concil sets the budget, he simply pays the bills.

July 11 2012 at 2:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If the city doesn't have the money to pay them with, what is he supposed to do. Another alternative would be to lay off whatever number of employees it takes to get to the amount of money that is available to pay. You might go from 500 employees down to 100 as an example. The 100 are still good, but what about the other 400.

July 11 2012 at 2:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Guess what Mr Doherty Re-election time people have long memories You'll be commiting political suicide
and if they vote you in they can vote you out to its called Democracy

July 11 2012 at 12:26 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to fred98591's comment

again, where is he going to get the money to pay them. Lower to minimum wage or lay them all off. What would you want.

July 11 2012 at 2:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hold him in contempt and guess what Mr Doherty Do not pass go do not collect $200.00 GO STRAIGHT TO JAIL

July 11 2012 at 12:22 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

SURPRISE!!!!!! A demoCAN'T with BALLS!!

July 11 2012 at 12:20 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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