Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Trouble in Electric City? Pennsylvania Mayor Slashes Police And Firefighter Salaries to Minimum Wage

Does anybody remember how the Democrats and public employee unions were warning people prior to last month's Wisconsin recall election that if Gov. Walker retained his office, it would give licensce to all sorts of drastic cuts among public sector employees salaries and benefits?

Recently added Scranton Police Department prisoner transport.

It turns out they were at least half right- only it seems as though its Democrat officeholders who are taking a chainsaw to the wages of cops and firemen.

Local 60 of the International Association of Firefighters, Fraternal Order of Police E.B. Jermyn Lodge 2 and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2305 filed an injunction against Scranton, PA mayor Chris Doherty slashed the wages of nearly 400 city employees to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
The unions each have separate contracts with the city, the mayor cannot unilaterally slash pay outside the bounds of contracts and without any negotiations, and his decision is legally unfounded, according to the lawsuit filed in Lackawanna County Court by the unions' attorney, Thomas Jennings of Philadelphia.

The lawsuit also claims the unilateral action violates state Act 111 and other labor laws. The suit claims that if the pay cuts stand, they would have a "devastating immediate impact" on workers by creating their inability to feed their families or maintain any semblance of a decent standard of living; pay medical bills and other expenses; pay for child care in some cases, particularly for single parents, thus making it impossible for them to work; and pay mortgages, loans and other bills that would destroy their credit ratings.
Doherty, a Democrat elected to his third term in 2009, made the decision to unilaterally drastically slash wages last month in part to help secure a $16 million loan. According to some reports, the city of Scranton had less than $5000 in the bank last week.

In addition to the salary cuts- including his own- Doherty has also proposed implementeing a hike on property taxes by as much as 78% over the next three years. The Scranton City Council has rejected Doherty's tax hike on multiple occasions. The IAFF Local 60 reports that in 2011, the city shut down two Scranton Fire Department Engine companies. The city of Scranton has a Democrat in the mayor's office for the last 22 years.

Some morbid speculation on my part, but if this persists how difficult do you think its going to be to bribe a police officer who's making minimum wage? This blog's most recent Borderline Psychosis entry highlighted a pair of Texas deputies who were making more than their counterparts in Scranton, yet were willing to escort drug shipments for payments of $500 each. This is not to impugn the integrity of the current officers of the Scranton PD, but Mayor Doherty made it that much more difficult for them to pay their bills. While I suspect a number of officers would seek employment with another agency or take retirement, one would have to wonder about the quality of their replacements if the minimum wage situation is prolonged in any way in Scranton.

With a population of over 76,000, the northeastern Pennsylvania city is the 6th largest in the Keystone state and is perhaps best known for being the setting of the fictional Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company in the American version of The Office- even though most of the show's scenes are filmed in Hollywood.

A trolley from Scranton's Electric City Trolley Museum unloads passengers as a charter train with Pennsylvania E-8s arrives at Steamtown National Historic Site in 2007. Christopher Blaszczyk photo.

Dubbed the Electric City for its early status as the leader in mining relatively clean burning anthricite coal, Scranton is also home to Steamtown National Historic Site and the adjacent Electric City Trolley Museum. The Lackawana County seat also remains an important transportation crossroads in the region with I-81 passing through the city while also serving as the northern terminus for the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and western end of I-84. In addition to the rail and trolley museums highlighting Scranton's past, the Electric City remains a fairly active railroad hub with freight service provided by the Canadian Pacific, Norfolk Southern, Delaware-Lackawana, Reading & Northern and Luzerne & Susquehanna.

[Hat tip- Support Your Local Gunfighter]

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