Scranton, Pa., fire fighters are pushing back on a controversial decision by the city’s mayor to pay 400 city employees minimum wage.
Mayor Chris Doherty illegally reduced the pay everyone’s pay to $7.25 an hour, ignoring a judge’s order to leave salaries alone.
The mayor and City Council are at odds over how to fix the budget shortfall. The mayor would like to raise taxes, while members of the city council would like to borrow money to help cover expenses. Scranton’s employees are caught in the middle.
John Judge, president of IAFF Local 60, says some of his fellow fire fighters now qualify for food stamps and are concerned about how they will pay their next mortgage or buy food.
“I have members in our bargaining unit who have children who are high school aged and out for summer break working part-time jobs earning $8.25 or $8.50 an hour,” he says. “It is absolutely ridiculous.”
Judge, a 10-year veteran of the department, has discussed the issue with National Public Radio (NPR), MSNBC’s Ed Schultz show, NBC Nightly News, CNN and Fox News and many more media outlets.
Some Scranton workers are now considering applying for partial unemployment compensation as a result of their paychecks being drastically cut.
Mayor Doherty’s political ploy to cut wages hasn’t harmed him at all. Even though the mayor reduced his own salary, he is a millionaire who doesn’t have to worry about finding money to pay his mortgage or feed his family.
Local 60, along with the police and other public worker unions, took the city to court. The judge issued an injunction stating the city is breaking the law. Public employee unions have asked the judge to hold Mayor Doherty in contempt. The mayor has pledged to retroactively compensate city employees once revenues are stable, he said.
After Scranton fire fighters put out a fire yesterday, a Scranton resident expressed surprise and thanks.
“Cut to minimum wage? The ones we really need?” Buffie Rohr told a Scranton Times-Tribune reporter. “It's ridiculous. ... I wouldn't risk my life for $7.25 an hour.”
A Scranton Assistant Fire Chief was speaking to the reporter when Ms. Rohr walked over to him to offer her thanks.
“I want to thank you guys for saving mine and my kids’ lives,” she told the assistant chief. “We would've lost everything.”
Many of you were taken aback after hearing Scranton, Pa. public workers are now being paid minimum wage.
Here are some comments from our social networks:
STOP This MADNESS, Pennsylvania!
@IAFFNewsDesk that makes me want to puke! What is wrong with this America I have lived 59 years in!
MINIMUM WAGE?????? They save your lives & property worth a lot more. I wouldn't go in a burning bldg to save property.
“I wouldn't be willing to risk my life for minimum wage. Scranton will get exactly what they are willing to pay for. Good luck!”
“It is sad that the people and politicians in this country don't think twice about sports players making millions, corporate and bank execs making millions, actors and singers making millions , but blame the working class union public service employees for the financial mess and think nothing about cutting their pay and benefits to near poverty level for risking their lives. This is not a game or office job!!!”
“This is a perfect example of why I have no respect for bought and paid for politicians of either party operating in today's political atmosphere.....and they try to convince us they really care about ordinary, everyday people….. This is the fault of the voters....they keep voting people like this into office.”