I Just Joined Integrity Bank

I’ve spent the better part of the past two weeks searching for a replacement bank.  I went into branches, called customer service numbers, asked the same questions of different employees, and asked friends & coworkers for advice.  I’m pretty sure I compared all the locals (Mid Penn, Members 1st, Centric, etc), regionals (PNC, Citizens), and nationals (E*Trade and ING).  Almost every bank had its benefits, but Integrity Bank really stood out.  I’ll try and outline my reasons here, but remember that there is no end-all be-all bank for everyone.  Note: If things like free gourmet coffee and a well-designed interior don’t interest you, skip the next two paragraphs.

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Pennsylvania Budget Impasse ’09: Part II

Note:  This is part of a series of posts detailing the 2009 Pennsylvania budget impasse.  To see all posts in this series, click here.

An anonymous source just forwarded me a very interesting email concerning Pennsylvania’s threat to require its employees to work with delayed pay.  While it’s already been fairly well established that federal labor law will apply, our Governor and our legislature seem to think that it does not.  I can not fathom why they would put Pennsylvania taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in civil damages by breaking the law.

At any rate, the US Department of Labor — the federal agency tasked with enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act — seems to disagree with them.  And Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority (469 U.S. 528 (1985)), decided almost a quarter century ago, says that government workers are, in fact, protected by the FLSA.

Continue reading Pennsylvania Budget Impasse ’09: Part II

Metro Bank Harrisburg: An Example in Failure

UPDATE 3: If you’re having trouble with Metro Bank, I’ve added another post detailing how to file a formal complaint and how to make sure your complaint is effective.

UPDATE 4: The Consumerist has linked to my story.  Thanks, guys!  Since Metro Bank isn’t paying attention to individual consumers, maybe some nationwide bad publicity will help out.

UPDATE 5: The Patriot-News ran a story on Metro Bank.  CEO Gary Nalbandian says things “went well overall”.

So I’ve been a Commerce Bank customer for a few years now.  I’ve always enjoyed their focus on convenience and customer service.  This past weekend, they shed their old moniker and became known as Metro Bank. They replaced the website, re-recorded all the greetings, and I believe all their signage has now been replaced.

As an added bonus, there’s a puppy wandering around their homepage.

Commerce Bank Harrisburg was always well-known for treating their customers well.  And yet it’s as if Metro Bank — with the same people in charge, mind you — has thrown out everything they knew about good customer service.  From major faults such as cutting off ATM cards with no warning, to tiny details (such as having their customer service reps recite an uncomfortably-long 20-second greeting when they answer the phone), Metro Bank has really fouled this one up.

Continue reading Metro Bank Harrisburg: An Example in Failure

AFSCME to the Rescue!

With an impending budget impasse, AFSCME — the union to which most Pennsylvania civil service employees pay dues, regardless of whether they’re a member or not — has come forward in full support of its members with guns a-blazin’.  Earlier this week, AFSCME finally updated their website to reference the impending stop-pay scenario with helpful links to unemployment resources.

There’s just one problem with that:

WE’RE NOT UNEMPLOYED!

We can not collect unemployment because we are still employed.  I’m not clear on which is worse; being laid off and collecting unemployment, or being forced to work without a paycheck.  Oh sure, we’ll get paid — but it will be somewhere between 1 and 52 weeks late.  I’m sure Honda, Sallie Mae, my mortgage company, and my credit card company will all understand.  And I’m positive Giant will be willing to just let me take whatever food I need and pay for it “later”.

Thanks, guys.  Big help.  Glad to see you’re on this.

State Employees Are Protected Under the FLSA

There’s been some talk lately about whether or not state employees are covered under the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.  The short answer is yes.

When the law was first passed, it was not intended to cover government employees.  In 1966, the Act was amended to cover certain government employees in certain conditions.  In 1976, in National League of Cities v. Usery (426 U.S. 833 (1976)), the US Supreme Court ruled that the FLSA did not cover government employees doing traditional government-employee-type work, effectively ending the employees’ protection under FLSA.

However, Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority (469 U.S. 528 (1985)) effectively reversed National League of Cities.  It clearly states that employees of state and local governments are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act.  And given the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution, no state legislation can override federal law.  So even if our legislators rush through an emergency bill that attempts to block FLSA protections for state employees, it would not stand up against federal law.

Your move.

Note:  This is part of a series of posts detailing the 2009 Pennsylvania budget impasse.  To see all posts in this series, click here.