Scranton, Pa., Slashes Its Workers' Pay to $7.25/Hour

Mayor Chris Doherty says minimum wage is all the city can afford
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2012 5:41 PM CDT
Scranton, Pa., Pays Its Workers Minimum Wage
The city of Scranton, Pa., is paying its workers minimum wage.   (Shutterstock)

City workers in Scranton, Pa., had to be surprised on Friday—when their wages dropped to just $7.25 an hour, the state's minimum wage. But Mayor Chris Doherty says that's all Scranton can afford. "I'm trying to do the best I can with the limited amount of funds that I have," he tells NPR. "Our people work hard—our police and fire—I just don't have enough money and I can't print it in the basement."

Scranton's financial woes date back to World War II, when the city population began dropping, but now officials are clashing over a $16.8 million budget gap. Doherty (who cut his own pay to $7.25 an hour, too) wants to raise taxes, while city councilors want to borrow the money. Meanwhile, city coffers dropped to just $5,000 after the last paychecks went out. And unions are planning to fight the wage decrease in court tomorrow. "Don't know how I'm going to pay bills at home," said one firefighter. "I may be able to stave it off for a little while." (More Scranton stories.)

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