|Scranton, Unions Reach Settlement over Minimum-Wage Back Pay, Motion to Hold Mayor in Contempt ||08/03/2012
|SCRANTON, PA — Scranton and its police, fire and public works unions have reached a settlement over Mayor Chris Doherty's decision to cut city employees' pay to minimum wage for one pay period earlier this month.
Under the agreement, which was reached Saturday, the city will pay the employees in full for the withheld wages, along with 6 percent interest, by Aug. 17.
The payment deadline will be extended to Aug. 31 if the city has not received aid offered by the state by Aug. 16.
For their part, the unions agreed to drop a petition asking Judge Michael Barrasse to find Mr. Doherty in contempt for defying a court order that barred the city from cutting wages to $7.25 an hour.
Due to Saturday's settlement, the unions on Monday submitted a request to the judge asking that today's hearing be put off, according to court documents.
By the end of Monday's workday, the judge had adjourned today's hearing, Mr. Doherty said.
The contempt/back pay settlement was the latest accord in the city's fractious cash-crunch crisis. On Friday, the mayor and council reached a tentative agreement on revising a recovery plan that is seen as a key to securing financing to keep the city afloat this year.
That followed Thursday's adoption by council of breakthrough arbitration settlements between the city and its police and fire unions.
Under the contempt/back pay accord, the union dropped its contempt petition and the city dropped its appeal to Commonwealth Court of Judge Barrasse's July 6 injunction ordering full wages.
City administration solicitor Paul Kelly said, "I'm hopeful that the matter is resolved and that the parties can put this behind them and move on to labor/management peace."
Fire union president John Judge said, "I think it was a good move on the mayor's part to reach out and come to this agreement, rather than have the judge tell him what's going to happen."
The 6 percent interest for the period of withheld payment amounts to $5,192 if paid by Aug. 16, or $6,923 if paid no later than Aug. 31, the settlement states.
After paying only minimum wages on July 6, the city had enough money for a full payroll on the next payday of July 20. The city also expects to be able to make a full payroll on the next payday, this Friday, the mayor said.
Meanwhile, the judge on Monday also adjourned a separate hearing that was supposed to be held yesterday on council's challenge of the judge's decision to order council members to attend the contempt hearing, council solicitor Boyd Hughes said.
The council was set to argue it is not a party to the unions' lawsuit against the mayor, and as such the judge could not order the council to attend the contempt hearing. But the settlement also made Monday's hearing moot, said Mr. Hughes, who met privately Monday with the judge in his chambers to discuss the matter.
Lockwood, Jim, and Singleton, David. "Scranton, Unions Reach Settlement over Minimum-Wage Back Pay, Motion to Hold Mayor in Contempt". TheTimes-Tribune.com. July 31, 2012. http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-unions-reach-settlement-over-minimum-wage-back-pay-motion-to-hold-mayor-in-contempt-1.1351815