Note: This is part of a series of posts detailing the 2009 Pennsylvania budget impasse. To see all posts in this series, click here.
I was going to blog about the curious email I received from Metro Bank, but that will have to wait. A commenter just posted a very interesting link regarding our now-in-effect budget impasse, and I wanted to share.
Governor Rendell is stating that the court has declared that the Pennsylvania Constitution supersedes the Fair Labor Standards Act. And as you know, I have repeatedly said that this is incorrect. The Rendell administration is only telling part of the story; because there is no conflict between the Constitution and the FLSA, neither supersedes the other. The court has said that the FLSA doesn’t care where they money comes from, and in fact, not having money is not an excuse for violating the FLSA. And in reviewing the court’s published opinion, I somehow missed this very enlightening footnote:
14 – Should the Governor choose not to furlough any State employees, it is for those employees to decide whether to continue to work given the uncertainty of the date of their next check and, if they do work, to decide whether to elicit the assistance of the U.S. Secretary of Labor in seeking liquidated damages under the FLSA should their wages not be paid “on time.”
- “Nevertheless, assuming that the FLSA requires the payment of wages on time … it does not follow that Article III, Section 24 of the Constitution has been nullified with respect to FLSA-covered employees.”
- “(The) FLSA does not contain any instructions to employers that lack the funds to make payroll on time. It simply increases their liability by giving employees the right to seek liquidated damages.”
- “(The) FLSA does not address the crisis that occurs when a State is deadlocked by a budget impasse. Accordingly, there is no basis for inferring that Congress intended to countenance, let alone require, a raid upon a State treasury for monies … until the day they are actually appropriated.”
- “This Court concludes that there exists no conflict between the FLSA and Article III, Section 24; the two provisions address different concerns” (emphasis added)
Our final paycheck is out in less than two weeks. I’m one of the lucky ones that has some money set aside. Plenty do not. Our union has done nothing (oops, they’ve now given us cards to hand out to local merchants; I stand corrected, AFSCME has saved us all). Our governor is wrong. And our legislature is failing.
I wish I had a clever way to end this post, but I don’t. This just sucks.