Democratic Mayor Chris Doherty's decision to cut Scranton public employees' salaries down the minimum wage will become the "new template" for how American cities treat their workers, The Ed Show's Ed Schultz said on Tuesday.
Doherty's policy, which came into effect last Friday, reduces the salaries of 398 employees to $7.25 an hour. The move was intended to put a dent in Scranton's $16.8 million budget deficit; however, even after dispersing the first round of reduced paychecks, the city still had only $5,000 in its coffers.
John Judge, head of the fire fighters' union local in Scranton, told Ed that the wage reduction "amounts to an 80% pay cut."
His union members are "trying to figure out how they're going to make bill payments," he said.
Doherty has promised that the measure is temporary, but Judge said that he had given no indication how long it would last. "Could this go on for two weeks? Could it go on for a month? Could it go on for two months? So we don't know even how to actually plan for it."
The pay cuts were implemented in violation of a court injunction. In response, the fire fighters and other public employee unions sued Doherty on Tuesday for contempt of court.
"What we're seeing here is the crumbling of America's infrastructure," said Ed. "We don't have the money now to pay for the essentials. And the question is how many fire fighters are going to become disenchanted, get out of the business, get out of this line of work, and leave communities vulnerable. And all of a sudden, we have a new template on how we're going to have public employees service our communities in America."