Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Angry State Workers Call On Lawmakers to Pass Budget

State workers say they're running out of money because of the lack of a budget in Pennsylvania and hundreds of them took their message to lawmakers.
State employees representing at least eight unions turned the steps of the state Capitol into a sea of green shirts. They wielded signs emblazoned with pointed slogans that all go back to one central message: pass a budget.
The workers won't see another paycheck until a spending plan is passed.
David Fillman, executive director of AFSCME Council 13, says something's wrong when public service workers have to wait in line at local food banks.

"Brothers and sisters, you're public employees, you're the best and you do the job the best you can. Now these clowns behind us should be doing their job so you get paid!"

Roni Hamiel, secretary-treasurer of S-E-I-U Local 6-68, says the employees are tired of being used as pawns.

"Some legislators say that they don't support the stop-gap legislation or other means to pay our state workers while the budget agreement is being worked out because that would remove an incentive for passing the budget. What kind of message is that?"

Governor Rendell has said a state court decision last year prevents him from paying employees.
Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Bill George says the timing of Rendell's move toward a stop-gap budget plan is no coincidence with a federal probe under way into "payless paydays."

"I think he knows that here in the next ten days there's gonna be a legal battle and there may be an injunction from a federal judge somewhere that would push him to do that anyways."

Governor Rendell has asked employees to keep working so government can remain open, with a promise that workers will collect back pay once a budget is in place. Because of their pay cycles, most state employees received at least a partial paycheck either July 17 or July 24. But starting July 31, there will be no pay for the vast majority of state workers
With the state budget impasse entering its fifth week with no sign of a pending agreement, thousands are wondering how many payless paydays are in store.

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