On Friday, July 24th, many employees of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will receive only a small portion of their regular paycheck.
Excerpt from Governor Rendell’s letter to the Mortgage Bankers Association of Pennsylvania:
“The Commonwealth pays employees in arrears in two payroll groups, each being paid on alternate Fridays. For employees paid on Friday, July 17, they will be paid for the seven days they worked before June 30; they will not be paid for the three days worked after June 30. For employees paid on Friday, July 24, they will be paid for the two days they worked before June 30; they will not be paid for the eight days worked after June 30. If an impasse continues past July 24, employees will not receive any pay on their regularly scheduled pay days until a budget is signed. Employees will be paid in full for any missed pay as quickly as possible once a budget is signed.”
If no budget is passed, and no stop-gap measure is approved to pay Commonwealth employees, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, Governor Rendell will be breaking the law. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employees to be paid at least the legal minimum wage on time.
If at least the minimum wage is not paid on time, then affected Commonwealth employees will be eligible to file with the U.S. Department of Labor for back pay. Remedies available include:
(1) The Wage and Hour Division may supervise payment of back wages.
(2) The Secretary of Labor may bring suit for back wages and an equal amount as liquidated damages.
(3) An employee may file a private suit for back pay and an equal amount as liquidated damages, plus attorney’s fees and court costs.
(4) The Secretary of Labor may obtain an injunction to restrain any person from violating the FLSA, including the unlawful withholding of proper minimum wage and overtime pay.
Source: U.S Department of Labor
What does this mean for Pennsylvania?
If every Commonwealth employee becomes eligible for back pay, plus an equal amount in liquidated damages, plus attorney fees and court costs, Pennsylvania could be facing billions of dollars in unnecessary expenses, because Governor Rendell and his colleagues have once again miserably failed to perform their duties. Instead, they grandstand, stall, and play politics as usual, while sinking Pennsylvania into the abyss of financial ruin.
A key point in this dilemma is a proposed tax increase, insisted on by Governor Rendell, and supported by his Democratic allies in the Pa General Assembly. This tax increase would largely fund Governor Rendell’s pet projects. So, during the worst economic downturn is recent history, Governor Rendell thinks you should give more of your money to the government!
However, should thousands of Commonwealth employees file for relief under the Fair Labor Standards Act, as they have a right to do, where will all that tax money go? That’s right, it will go to pay the liquidated damages, court costs, and attorneys fees.
On Friday, July 17, the Democrat-led Pa House of Representatives passed a budget, on a party-line vote. The proposed budget was sent to the Pa Senate for consideration.
Quote from Rep. Sam Rohrer (R – Berks):
“In a largely party-line vote, House Democrats this week rejected a balanced, responsible $27.27 billion budget that fully funded vital government services without increasing taxes.
The GOP plan, offered by Republican Appropriations Chairman Mario Civera (R-Delaware) as an amendment to the Democrat budget bill, provided an average increase of about 11 percent for schools in Pennsylvania and made cuts to force government to live within its means. Without the amendment, House Bill 1416, approved and sent to the Senate today, irresponsibly increases spending to $29.1 billion-the most expensive budget proposal in the history of the Commonwealth and a virtual guarantee of increased taxes.
To balance their budget and to leverage support for a large tax increase, House Democrats completely eliminated $1.2 billion in funding for the 14 state system universities, community colleges, and PHEAA.”
Read that last paragraph again… cut funding for education to leverage support to increase taxes… to fund education!
You should be! Ed Rendell and company are throwing away your money! Even worse is the fact that they’re going to raise your taxes, while many Pennsylvanians are struggling just to make ends meet. It’s time we stand up to the money-grabbers in Harrisburg. Call them and let them know that it’s not permissible to throw away our money, then demand that we pay more!
Who to contact:
Governor Edward G. Rendell’s Office
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120
Phone: (717) 787-2500
Fax: (717) 772-8284
Hon. Todd A. Eachus – House Majority Leader
1 West Broad St.
Hazleton, PA 18201
Fax: (570) 459-3946
110 Main Capitol Building
PO Box 202116
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2116
Fax: (717) 772-9991
Hon. Dwight Evans – Majority Appropriations Committee Chairman
7174 Ogontz Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19138
Fax: (215) 549-8965
512-E Main Capitol Building
PO Box 202203
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2203
Fax: (717) 787-2334
PA House of Representatives Membership Listing
PA Senate Membership Listing
For Commonwealth employees affected by the budget impasse:
If you do not receive at least the minimum wage for all hours worked in your next paycheck, plus overtime, contact the U. S. Dept. of Labor, Wage and Hour Division at 570-826-6316, Ext. 8646, to file a claim.