July 16th, 2012
Employers Gone Wild: Scranton Mayor (D) drops city workers’ pay to minimum wage
Mayor Chris Doherty (Democrat) voluntarily slashed the wages of 398 unionized workers whose salaries and benefits are paid by the City of Scranton. He unilaterally and illegally declared that effective July 6, they would be paid a maximum of $7.25 per hour, Pennsylvania’s minimum wage. The average Scranton firefighter salary was $55,910; it will drop to $15,080, an amount that throws a two-person family into poverty.
The transformation of America into a third-world nation is happening before our very eyes. We are told it is inevitable. What say the USA!USA!USA! chanters professing a belief in undying American “exceptionalism”? where is their outrage when this happens to normal working folks?
Doherty’s rationale is that the City needs $16.8 million to balance its budget. He assumes that if the City’s debt can be reduced ($9.85 million would be made up on the backs of City workers with this pay cut), the banks will allow Doherty to sell bonds to make up the difference.
In other words, draconian austerity is imposed on City workers to appease the BANKS. Holy cow! The banks are filthy rich. They are sitting on funds whose distribution is blocked by the banks themselves. What happened to the notion of banks supporting their “communities”? That’s what all their marketing gibberish claims. Well, it’s time for the banks to step up and help the cities where they have customers.
There is also an ongoing feud between the Doherty and the democratic City Council over recovery plans for the City. Doherty wants to increase property taxes for homeowners by 78%. The Council blocked his proposal. Doherty is suing the City Council.
The unions sued Doherty and won an injunction against the pay cut from a judge on July 5. Doherty and the business administrator Ryan McGowan said they will violate the injunction. The City is $2 million behind in paying health insurance premiums for its workers.
Doherty told the Scranton Times-Tribune “I apologize to all employees in the city that have to bear this. This is totally unnecessary.”
Then who is making him do this “unnecessary” thing?
Behind the scenes are many driving forces that politicians these days will not truthfully address. Pennsylvania, my home state, is no exception:
- no hope of federal Congress providing funds to States, Counties and Cities to prevent this budget shortfall (the Feds can print the money, but all other forms of government have to balance their budgets annually)
- why no hope? Cowardice. It’s election season (has been since 2010) and no one wants to be caught spending on people.
- why no spending on people? Because government has been branded the bogeyman since Reagan’s time and that view has not been challenged by visible and credible politicians from both parties.
- public sector workers have been demonized as if they caused the worldwide economic recession of 2008 when in fact it was the financial wizards of wall street and their all-too-clever inventions of financial “products” (a.k.a. derivatives and credit swaps and newly discovered interest rate fixing) that destroyed public sector economies
- despite identifying banks as the source of economic pain for working people, banks have not been made to suffer and crooked bankers are not jailed in the U.S. For this reason, feckless cowering politicians like Doherty strive to appease banks as he inflicts pain on so many working families. Time to check his political contributors list.
- the hero aura bestowed automatically on firefighters and police after 9/11 has been replaced with a systematic campaign to denigrate these public sector workers. Doherty is doing his part to tear down old positive stereotypes and make the workers appear greedy that they want to continue to earn a living wage.
- Pennyslvania is busy granting $1.65 BILLION in tax credits to Shell to entice the company to build a filthy refinery (that will employ only about 400 workers) in western PA while it allows oil and gas firms to extract gas (via the dangerous and harmful fracking process) from the vast underground shale reserves in PA without paying fees that would give the impoverished state a flood of needed funds. Thank Gov. Corbett.
This entry was posted on Monday, July 16th, 2012 at 5:28 pm and is filed under Commentary by G. Namie, Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, The New America. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.