On July 23rd, concerned citizens and union members turned out at the downtown Scranton firehouse to stand with firefighters and police officers to demand M&T Bank come through with a loan to help the city.
Earlier this month, Scranton’s cops, firefighters, and other city workers had their wages slashed to the $7.25/hour minimum wage because of the city’s financial woes. M&T had been negotiating a loan with the city, but recently walked away from the deal.
Taxpayers gave $1 Billion to M&T in bailout money during the financial crisis, which they still have not paid back in full. Last year, M&T Bank made $859 million in profit, and has $355 million in deposits in the Cayman Islands.
“M&T was more than happy to borrow from taxpayers in their time of need, but now when we need them here in Scranton, they’re turning their backs on us,” said Tony Howey, a Scranton resident and member of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “M&T can afford to help us pay our police and firefighters, and put our city back on a path to recovery.”
Paying cops and firefighters minimum wage means they will make about $15,000/year, which is well below the poverty line for a family of four.
“Our firefighters and police should not be forced to struggle to survive on minimum wage,” said Michele Kessler, a resident of NEPA and member of UFCW. “They protect our families and deserve the dignity of a fair paycheck.”
The court has issued an injunction to block the minimum wage change, but the city has stated it intends to violate the injunction.