Yesterday’s Capitol Protest: Pictures & Video


Approximately 3,000 people (guess) turned out to protest the budget impasse — and specifically, how it has effectively cut 100% of funding to 100% of state agencies and programs — yesterday afternoon on the steps of the Capitol building in Harrisburg.  Supporters overruled the oppressive, muggy heat to make sure our message was heard.  We need a budget passed, and we need it passed now. The time for committees, speeches, debate, and other political rhetoric is long over.

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Sample Creditor Letter

Any state employee who is affected by the impasse (which, basically, means all of us) should consider reaching out to his or her creditors to let them know what’s going on.  Even with 10 weeks’ worth of spending money in savings, I’ve contacted all of mine to inquire about deferment and emergency arrangements.  Creditors are a finicky bunch, and they’re a lot more likely to help you out if they know you’re dealing in good faith.  But you need to be careful in how you approach them.

First, if you tell them you can no longer pay them, you may get dumped into collections immediately.  Don’t do this.  Instead, stress that you are temporarily being affected by extraordinary circumstances, and that you anticipate a resumption in pay “soon”.  If you can make them understand that you’re not simply blowing them off, they will be much more likely (but still not guaranteed) to work with you. Continue reading Sample Creditor Letter

The Cost of FLSA Violations = $3 Million Per Day

That’s right — $3,000,000.  PER DAY. Thanks to Robin over at Nana’s House for catching this one.  Using that number, Pennsylvania taxpayers are already on the hook for $78 million in liquidated damages.  That’s an average of $90 million for every month that this drags on.  If Judge Judy were trying this case, this is the moment when she would yell “Outrageous.  OUTRAGEOUS!  What kind of responsible behavior is THAT?”

Come to think of it, I personally would pay a large sum of money to watch AFSCME and the Rendell administration work this out in her amusing-yet-disturbing circus of arbitration (incidentally, “AFSCME & The Rendell Administration” was the name of a band at my college way back when).  But I digress.

This figure comes from a document created by the Office of Administration regarding the furloughs and how they would affect 2008-2009 fiscal year.  The document can be found by Googling “Commonwealth of PA FLSA“.  It’s the eighth entry down (if you don’t see it, sign out of everything Google and try again).  The URL begins with “…”.  It’s a Powerpoint presentation prepared on June 8, 2008, presumably to discuss implications of the then-upcoming furloughs.  It’s an interesting read in its entirety, but the most important element is on page 18:

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Legislative Staffers Are Still Being Paid

It appears that our government may be guilty of more than one violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

I’ve already demonstrated that government employees in any capacity are covered by the FLSA.  And part of the FLSA states that employers must maintain an accurate record of hours worked and wages paid, and that these records must be open for inspection by the Secretary of the US Department of Labor.

But it seems that no such records are kept for Legislative staffers.  Channel 4 out of Pittsburgh has smelled blood in the water and is moving in for a fight:

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OA’s Response to the US Dept of Labor

Thanks to John Micek over at Capitol Ideas for obtaining and publishing OA’s response to the Department of Labor’s inquiry.  As stated previously, Pennsylvania is now the subject of a federal investigation into federal labor law violations.  The Department of Labor has requested payroll records from the PA Office of Administration for the period of June 20 2009 through July 3 2009.  The full copy of the letter can be found at Capitol Ideas.

As of the time of this post, none of our local media outlets are covering this story.  They’ve all been scooped by a blogger.