The Legislature Is Beginning To Notice

This past Thursday, Senator Gordner (R-Columbia) took to the floor and pointed out — finally — that requiring state employees to work without pay is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.  He held up a sign with the phone number for the US Department of Labor and encouraged all state employees to file a complaint.  Yesterday, Lt. Governor Scarnati told Governor Rendell in no uncertain terms to stop using state employees — and by proxy, Pennsylvania taxpayers — as pawns in this political game.  While this is ultimately not a sign of anything in particular, it does suggest that perhaps our elected officials are beginning to realize the problem they just created.  As if in slow motion, the thought of bearing responsibility for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages — to say nothing of the instant loss of spending power for 70,000 state employees — is causing them to reel around in terror and think “Oh god, what have we done?”

Not because they care, mind you.  If they did, this would’ve been fixed months ago.  It’s because the public is getting through to them.  It’s because they are beginning to realize that this latest fiasco will harm their chances for re-election.

It’s because they now have to go home to their constituents and explain why 70,000 of us had to stop spending money on local businesses.  And explain to employees of vendors servicing the state why their state contracts are going unpaid.  And explain to every taxpaying Pennsylvanian why we’re all facing a few hundred million in damages and legal fees.

The wheels have not yet begun to turn — but they did just shudder to life.

It is absolutely imperative that every single taxpaying Pennsylvanian contact his or her legislator and governor and ask exactly what the hell is going on.  The money is already there — we’re not broke.  Rather, our elected officials have decided they don’t feel like spending any of it because … well, I don’t think there really is any good reason.

Use sites like Vote Smart to find contact information for your local legislator.  Just pop in your zip code and you’ll get the name, address, and phone number for your elected officials.  Call every single one of them every day and demand a budget be passed.  Tell them you plan to vote against them in the next election.  Remind them that they work for you, not the other way around.  If they’ve taken a single day off since July 1st — if they’ve taken one single holiday, one single weekend break, one single sick day — ask them why.  Ask them what gives them the right to expose every Pennsylvania taxpayer to hundreds of millions of dollars in damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Ask them why they feel it to be appropriate that vendors on state contracts go unpaid.

Ask them why they believe that hard work bears no reward.

Write to your local newspaper.  Use Twitter.  Use social media sites like Fark and DiggStart your own blog.  Let the world know that this isn’t just about your paycheck (although that’s certainly a LOT of it); it’s also about getting our legislature (and governor) to do the job that us taxpayers elect them to do.

23 thoughts on “The Legislature Is Beginning To Notice”

  1. I have tried to reach my local television station and newspapers. Wnep, my local coverage refuses to post my “talk back”. They have very little coverage of the budget. My local newspaper did not run my letter to the editor in favor of letters about Micaheal Jackson dying. The little local paper did post my “letter to the editor” on its website but did bot print it in the actual paper. One local paper had an editorial to the effect that the budget crisis doesn’t effect anyone except a bunch of over paid slackers. very frustrating trying to get my voice heard.

  2. A friend of mine put it this way. Lets say, at your current job, that you have a deadline. But not just any deadline, the same deadline every year. Like you need to complete something the SAME EXACT TIME every year. You know it is coming, you do it EVERY YEAR. Now you fail to hit that deadline EVERY YEAR. Do you keep your job? I would assume not. Even if you are covered by a union, that would be grounds for dismissal. I say, we need to FIRE the Ed, for doing a bad job, by missing his deadline EVERY STINKING YEAR! How do we go about impeaching Eddie?

  3. Sandman,
    You hit the nail on the head! So true!! And to think we have what 2 more years with good ole Eddie? Let’s start the impeachment now before we stave to death. Let me tell you what type of statue I would like on my mantel of Eddie. 😉

  4. My husband works for PennDot. This Friday we will receive our first short pay.
    I was a mortgage broker. I lost my job last year do to the mortgage market. Our credit is in the tank already due to the fact that we lost that income. We already went through negotiations for mortgage modification and payment arrangements with all of our bills in order to keep our home, cars, etc. When this first crisis happened to us.
    We do not qualify for this pay day loan Gov. Rendell is so proud of.
    Further more part of our negotiations with all of our creditors where that with these payment arrangements we must pay on time every time… or they have the right to start proceedings again for Forclosure, collects, repo.
    What are those that are already suffering from the economic crisis to do when your employer punishes you for their inability to do their job?

  5. The media seems like they’ve been bought. Every story is “state workers are not getting paid, BUT they can get 0% interest loans.” LOANS! And I’m absolutely speechless when it comes to the number of people who think this is a viable option. =(

    We need to take this to YouTube!!! Irene, I feel your pain. I’ve interviewed and made the front page of the Lancaster Sunday News, AND was interviewed and made a FOX43 appearance. It’s just not enough.

    I’ll be working on my video from some footage I got from a coworker. I’ll let you know when it’s done. And…oh yeh, YOUTUBE!!! The more footage the better.

    NO PAY, NO PEACE! =)

  6. I agree, My husband and I are both State employees. 80% of the employees where we work were turned down for the 0% interest loan, including both of us and we have good credit.

  7. Beginning to take notice?? Wow, not sure which is worse, the lawmakers just now taking notice of your work force not getting paid is a bigger deal than what they first thought??? or the fact they understand that withholding someone’s pay is a big deal, NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE, TIME FOR SOME ACTION, TALK IS CHEAP….

    I say come election time I will exercise my right and hand them a pink slip, go find some other community to organize…

  8. Rendell doesn’t give a squat. If your a manager with the state, you have more to complain about. 2 missed pay raises, potentially higher income taxes and higher health insurance contribution to boot. What was the purpose of being promoted again?
    So what can we do? Make sure that your state rep and/or senator doesn’t get his job again come reelection time. No incumbent should ever get our vote!!!
    I have written my rep and senator every week and the same canned answer comes strolling back. Heck AFSCME supports the increase in PIT!!

    Amazing!

  9. Video of protest from Tuesday @ Lancaster County Assistance Office. Next week, if needed, we will be moving to the square in downtown Lancaster.

  10. IF the online petitions don’t do much, what can we do? I want to take action against Rendell! WE as residents of this state need to take action to get him out of office before next budget! Is there anything we can do?

  11. Even with the PSECU loan, I will be losing $1,200/month. That is LOTS to lose. I am debating on getting my car inspected (due this month) and pay the registration (also due this month). If I get pulled over, flash my badge and say “I’ll get this done when I get paid.”

    I know I don’t have it as bad as lots of other state workers, but here are some more complaints….

    Both cars need serviced, motorcycle just took a crap (needs serious engine work (use it to save money on gas)). No way to pay! Will soon have to make the decision to pay bills or buy food. Man, I hope we can sue for damages.

  12. Oh Yeah, Mark C. Not getting pay raises SUCKS. This effects my ENTIRE LIFE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. Much less money in retirement, the whole 9. I really want Eddie to follow me around one day. See the service I provide to the State of PA. See that in my position, I really save taxpayers money, and lots of it. If he we could get rid of contracts with Delloite and IBM, we’d save many more millions. I also want EDDIE to sit with me and my wife and have a beer, to see we are REAL PEOPLE, and you shouldn’t mess with their livelihoods. Heck, I may not even spit in his beer.

  13. What the “master” is doing is criminal. He has been in violation of the PA Constitution since he took office by never passing a budget on time. He has used state employees as leverage to gain excessive budgets while the state employee suffers the consequences. He is not only in violation of the FLSA, however, he is also in violation of NRLA (National Labor Relations Act).

    You’re right “mark c. and Sandman”, thousands are not only suffering loss of pay BUT are suffering from “reverse discrimination”. Discrimination for NON-UNION AFFILIATION. It is now in writing and officially posted that a UNION affiliated state employee will continue earning step increases (COLA’s) and pay increases. His Edness cost thousands of state employees in potential pay increases as well as loss in retirement, destroying futures for so many.

    The thugs reasoning back in December was to take this “contractually agreed” pay raise from those who have NO union representation and NO VOICE and … oh, apply it to the THEN budget deficit of 1.2 Billion. However, he used that money to place his cronies in offices at top salaries averaging $125,000 PLUS health care, perks and free parking; and handing out money for snowmobile tracks, and golf courses of friends. Then, OH MY GOD!! How did we get into a 3.2 Billion dollar deficit? Because a despotic, out of control spending freak was never reined in on his compulsive disease to spend other people’s hard earned dollars.

    The UNION took $200 million from the state employee trust fund (part of ALL state worker’s funds) to save the union affiliated employee from losing pay increases. SO the union is now pushing its members to vote in a budget and back the tyrannical governor for passing increased taxes on PIT, county sales tax, AND an additional 2% insurance tax. WHY? Because the union claims since it SAVED its members from losing their pay increases, they can afford that money coming out of their checks.

    However, not everyone will see another raise as long as the thug exists in office. Even after he leaves, there is no glimmer of hope that these NON-UNION AFFILIATED state employees will ever be made hole again. Therefore, they sink deeper below the cost of living index. In other words, a UNION affiliated state employee in the same grade as a 7, step 7 right NOW makes $3,500 more.

    Discrimination, separatism, violations of so many rights of thousands!!!

  14. I’m thinking that come next election I will vote against everyone currently in office even if it means voting across party lines. How much worse could we do.

  15. A CAO co-worker was stopped by a trooper for speeding this morning. He asked where she was going. When she told him she worked at the welfare office, he closed the ticket book and waived her on.

  16. Harrisburg needs a big enema inserted into the capitol dome so we can rid ourselves of our misery.
    If we think not getting a paycheck is bad, just wait until they do pass some sort of budget. Word is agencies are prepping for layoffs and lots of them. So regardless of the budget outcome, we may be enjoying our last pays despite our givebacks and no raises for management.
    To top it off, take a look at the legislative and governor’s office budget’s. Not one cut. The General Assembly costs us nearly a half a billion a year!!!
    What does it take to recall the whole bunch?

  17. I got laid off today because the Pennsylvania budget impasse cut off funding to the non-profit agency I work for. So I blogged about this and submitted a link to Reddit.com about what is happening in Pennsylvania. Go to Reddit.com and submit an article or upvote one. This is beginning to effect other people in the state.

  18. I know how everyone feels as a state employee myself . The stress is getting worse. I can’t sleep, afraid to eat much in case we need it later and feel like our representatives don’t care I’ve been e-mailing everyone from the local reps to the president himself and very few answers or the whole sidestep . I’m begining to think they took lessons from the governor in the best little whore house in texas ….
    I’ve even contacted our union official and not gotten a response back . I was wondering , with as much as we pay them couldn’t they send some money our way?

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