To say that Occupy protesters and police have had an uneasy relationship would be a tremendous understatement. Nevertheless, even the most radical protester feels profound sadness at the news that Scranton, Pennsylvania — the old industrial town of The Office fame — is cutting the pay of all public workers, including firefighters and police, to minimum wage.
One can’t help but wonder if even Michael Scott could come up with a better solution:
Scranton’s police, fire and Department of Public Works unions Monday filed a lawsuit to overturn Mayor Chris Doherty’s unilateral slashing of their salaries to minimum wage.
The unions – International Association of Firefighters Local 60, the Fraternal Order of Police E.B. Jermyn Lodge 2 and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 2305 – are seeking an injunction against the mayor to prohibit him from cutting pay to the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.
On Wednesday, the mayor dropped a bombshell by announcing he would unilaterally cut the pay of 398 city workers, including himself, to minimum wage indefinitely due to the city’s cash-crunch crisis.
The city is fast running out of money, the mayor said, and unpaid bills, particularly health care coverage, are mounting. By paying only minimum wages, starting with the next payday on Friday, the payroll that is paid every two weeks would drop from up to $1.2 million to $300,000, leaving the remaining $700,000 in deferred wages to pay bills, Mr. Doherty had said. Once the crisis is over, employees would be paid the deferred pay, he has said.
Scranton is just one of many cities running out of money, and this shows that the crisis is far from over. The next time protesters remind the police officers that they, too are part of the 99%, perhaps they’ll take heed.