Scranton’s Minimum Wage War Continues

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SCRANTON -- The nasty battle continues between the mayor of Scranton and the city’s municipal unions.

Tuesday, the unions filed three new lawsuits against the city over Mayor Chris Doherty decision to slash all city employee salaries to minimum wage.

More court action has been taken against the city of Scranton as the municipal unions filed three lawsuits just before the courts closed Tuesday.

The lawsuits -- one filed in Lackawanna County Court and two filed in federal court -- come after a judge ruled last week Mayor Chris Doherty must pay city workers their full salaries or be held in contempt.

“It`s a direct result of this mayor that`s been putting us in court for 10 years,” said John Judge, president of the firefighters union. “My guys have suffered under this guy for almost 11 years and this isn`t the first time we`ve seen him walk through court orders or court cases.”

Mayor Doherty announced last month that until city council comes up with a budget that will convince a bank to loan $16 million to the city, all city employees would make minimum wage: $7.25 dollars an hour.

The mayor says this is an attempt to save the city's dwindling money supply.

City Council President Janet Evans accused the mayor of using city workers to force council to accept the mayor`s proposed 78 percent property tax hike over a course of four years.

This wage war has now captured the attention of the national media.

Crews from networks, including CBS and NBC were stationed outside city hall and the county courthouse.

“I just think it`s ridiculous that we have to have be on national news, that it can`t just be taken care of face to face so it`s sad that it came to that,” said Vince Stella of Scranton.

The mayor says he wants to pay employees their full wages but the city just doesn`t have the money. So until this issue is resolved to where that loan can be secured, workers will continue to make minimum wage.

“Meanwhile I got guys making $7.25 an hour, trying to support a family and go out and pull people out of burning buildings, put your family and loved one out of vehicle accidents. I need them to be sharp, they can`t be thinking about these other stresses,” said Judge.

Attempts to reach both the mayor and city council president were unsuccessful Tuesday night.