SCRANTON — Scranton’s mayor has reached a settlement with his union workers over the decision to cut pay to minimum wage earlier this month.
The agreement between the labor unions and Mayor Chris Doherty keeps city leaders out of a courtroom. Also, it buys the mayor time to pay back employees. Part of the deal though is to pay employees back with interest, and the city’s budget is still underfunded by millions of dollars.
Scranton leaders overcame two major hurdles this weekend. First, by finishing a recovery plan Mayor Doherty says they need to secure a loan to fill a budget gap.
Then, Mayor Doherty settled out of court with the city labor unions with a plan to pay back employees from when the city nearly ran out of money earlier this month.
“We have to be able to provide services to the people of our city, what happened in terms of the back pay is, that is just a reflection of the budget and the challenges we face when there’s a shortfall,” Doherty said.
Mayor Doherty still criticized city council’s budget that relies on a $16 million loan. But, Doherty says he and council were able to work together over the weekend to create a recovery plan that will help the city get that money.
But, until then, Doherty says the city should have enough money on hand to make payroll and pay back city employees.
“Once we get through this it will be somewhat a relief, but you can never let your guard down. And I know that’s my job as the mayor,” added Doherty.
The firefighters union president and other officials from the city’s labor unions gave the mayor a deadline of August 31. To hand out back pay owed from when city employees were only paid minimum wage earlier this month. Plus, they’re asking for six percent interest.
“This is step one, and it’s a step in the right direction, let’s just see if all the parties follow through with what they promised and if not, we’ll be back in court,” said firefighter’s union president John Judge.
In exchange, the union drops its lawsuit with the city. And, hopefully gains peace of mind that their pay won’t be cut again.
“The back pay happened to be something that need to be handled as well, but the real issue was not knowing. And our members need to know in order to make the right adjustments for their family,” Judge added.
A judge approved the deal late Monday. Mayor Doherty and City Council no longer have to appear in court Tuesday.