"Payless paydays" for PA state workers

    Some government employees will look for part-time work to pay their bills.

    About 44,000 Pennsylvania government workers got skimpy paychecks July 24th. The Commonwealth can’t pay its bills, or payroll, until the state budget is passed.

    Listen: [audio:090724tenurse.mp3]

    Joel Levin is a supervisor in the Philadelphia County Assistance Office. He says state workers are caught in limbo.

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    Levin: There were some people who were saying they won’t be able to afford childcare, and they may have to use up their vacation time because they can’t get a babysitter. Depending on how your finances are some people are saying they could lose their homes.

    State workers will be paid retroactively when lawmakers finally agree on a spending plan, so Pennsylvania’s largest state-worker union is urging members to stay on the job. But some employees say they’ll look for part-time work to pay their bills.

    Joel Levin’s paycheck was short three days wages last week. If the budget stalemate continues, he’ll receive zero pay next Friday, July 31st.

    The Commonwealth began withholding worker pay on July 1st. Many state employees will get just 20 percent of their usual salary July 24th.

    Some employees say they’re being held hostage by contentious budget negotiations. David Fillman is executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees council in Pennsylvania.

    Fillman: It’s frustrating because the employees are not part of the negotiating process. This has absolutely nothing to do with what their job is and they are expected to come to work with a smile on their face everyday, yet they have to buy gas, they have to buy food for their family without getting any pay whatsoever from now on in.

    Yvonne Campbell is a nurse at Philadelphia’s long-term care facility for veterans.

    Campbell: Yes, it could be very upsetting to not receive a paycheck, and morale can dip, but despite that everybody is still coming to work and we are still providing top-notch care to these vets because they need us, they rely on us.

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