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About 400 municipal workers are now earning minimum wage because Scranton, Pennsylvania faces $16 million in red ink. Scranton is just one of several cities around the country grappling with budget deficits and searching for ways to bring in more money.
Budget, Cuts, Financial, Crisis, Municipal, Services, Bankruptcy, Deficits, Scranton, Pennsylvania, Pay Cuts, Minimum Wage, Wages, City Employees, Workers, Fire Fighters, Police, Economy, Economics, Public Works, Property Taxes, Tax Hike, Unions
"Paychecks Slashed in Scranton." Ron Allen, correspondent. NBC Nightly News. NBCUniversal Media. 10 July 2012. NBC Learn. Web. 22 January 2015.
Allen, R. (Reporter), & Williams, B. (Anchor). (2012, July 10). Paychecks Slashed in Scranton. [Television series episode]. NBC Nightly News. Retrieved from https://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/browse/?cuecard=59645
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"Paychecks Slashed in Scranton" NBC Nightly News, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 07/10/2012. Accessed Thu Jan 22 2015 from NBC Learn: https://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/browse/?cuecard=59645
Paychecks Slashed in Scranton
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor:
Good evening. From New York to Los Angeles from St. Petersburg to Seattle, in just about every city and town along the way and in between there are services and facilities that we all grew up with that just aren’t around anymore because of budget cuts because there’s no money for them. In some places it’s become dire. Some communities have declared bankruptcy others carry huge deficits. In Scranton, Pennsylvania here’s another extreme. The mayor there says that to stay afloat financially everybody, all municipal workers, must take a pay cut down to minimum wage. That means the Mayor, police, fire, everybody. It’s all part of the larger economic picture that was debated again on the campaign trail today and we have two reports to start off here tonight beginning with NBC’s Ron Allen in Scranton. Ron, Good Evening.
RON ALLEN, reporting:
Good evening to you, Brian. Yes, this battle was back in court today with public employee unions trying to force the Mayor to pay them their full wages guaranteed by their contracts we’re talking about 100’s of firefighters, police and other city employees who’s wages were suddenly slashed to 7.25 an hour because the city says the simply just don’t have the money. When Scranton’s Rescue 1 answered the call today firefighters had more on their minds then the usual hazards of a dangerous job. Their pay has been cut but as much as 75% to minimum wage – 7.25 an hour.
JOHN JUDGE (Firefighters’ Union President): I can go down the street and scoop ice cream that a high school kid for the summer is making 8.50 an hour doing and I have firefighters running into burning buildings at 7 and a quarter? And there’s police officers fighting with criminals, wrestling in the street? It’s absolutely ludicrous.
ALLEN: About 400 municipal workers in a city of 74 thousand now earn the minimum wage. A city that’s no stranger to tough economic times now faces 16 million dollars of red ink. Mayor Chris Doherty blames soaring health care costs, declining property taxes and little help from state and federal government. The mayor slashed employee pay even though a judge ordered him not to.
CHRIS DOHERTY (Scranton Mayor): They deserve to be paid; they’re doing a great job. There’s no question about that but I can’t make it work if I don’t have all the money.
ALLEN: City’s across the country are grasping for new ways to bring in more money. Chicago and Boston are considering charging tax-exempt non-profits like universities and hospitals fees for city services. In San Diego and San Jose last month voters approved cutting city worker’s pensions and Baltimore may sell ad space on the side of its fire trucks.
JIM SPIOTTO (Bankruptcy Attorney): We’re getting an indication that if we don’t pay attention to it and address the problems early enough the problems would be too big for us to solve with simple solutions and drastic measures will come.
ALLEN: Roger Leonard, a Scranton public works employee says he’s already taken drastic action dipping into precious savings after watching his pay drop from 900 dollars every two weeks to about 340 last pay-day.
ROGER LEONARD: We bust our chops every day and you kind of just expect the pay. You know, you expect your wages. This is something that shouldn’t happen to anybody.
ALLEN: The Mayor here says the situation is so dire he has proposed a 78% property tax hike over 4 years, something residents here certainly don’t want to hear about. Meanwhile the unions continue to keep up their pressure in court for their full pay and what the city now owes them in back wages, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Ron Allen starting us off in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Ron, thanks.