July 30 After slashing public employees' pay to
minimum wage on July 6, the mayor of cash-poor Scranton,
Pennsylvania, has struck a deal to pay them back what they are
owed with interest.
Mayor Christopher Doherty agreed that the city would pay
approximately $750,000 in compensation owed to firefighters,
police officers and public works employees, plus at least $5,100
in interest, said Tom Jennings, a lawyer for the employees'
In exchange, the unions said they would drop their bid to
have the mayor held in contempt of court, according to the
agreement, reached Saturday and presented to a judge on Monday.
Scranton, the setting for "The Office" television show, is
one of several cities in Pennsylvania and across the United
States that are struggling to make ends meet, b e cause of lowered
revenue collections and increased spending.
Doherty made headlines around the world after cutting
employees' pay to the state's $7.25 minimum wage for the July 6
A local judge had ordered Doherty not to make the cut, but
he did so anyway, prompting unions to push the court to have
Doherty held in contempt.
SCRANTON RESUMED FULL PAYROLL
Doherty did not immediately reply to a request for comment
about the settlement. Shortly after he cut the employees' pay,
Doherty said he had no other choice because the city didn't have
enough money to make full payroll of about $1.1 million for its
nearly 400 employees.
After paying them about $315,000 altogether at the minimum
wage, the city had just $5,000 left in its coffers, he has said.
For the following payroll on July 20, the city was again
able to pay the full amount due to employees under collective
The settlement calls for Scranton to repay the compensation
by Aug. 16, plus a 6 percent interest payment that amounts to at
least $5,100 for the missed pay periods.
Scranton, nicknamed the "Electric City" for having one of
the nation's first electric streetcar systems, will get $2.25
million in state aid if it can enact a plan by Aug. 15.
If it doesn't meet that goal, Scranton can extend
reimbursement of the back-pay until Aug. 31 but must pay nearly
$7,000 in interest instead, the agreement said.
Scranton officials have said they can't guarantee that they
won't again slash pay if the city runs low on cash.
"Hopefully [the settlement] gives us some stability here and
some assurances that this isn't going to happen again," said
John Judge, president of Scranton's firefighters' union. "I'm
The court injunction that bars the mayor from slashing wages
is still in effect, he said.