A mistake by a Philadelphia School District clerk has led to pay cuts for dozens of maintenance workers.
NBC10 Investigative reporter Mitch Blacher learned the district offered and then paid at least 60 maintenance workers $3 an hour more than it meant to. Now those workers are speaking out, claiming they can’t afford the pay cut and that the district already started garnishing paychecks in order to get the money back.
The employees told NBC10 the district hired them in May to clean schools.
“The job I had was paying $11.98,” said one worker, who did not want to be identified. “And I left that job for a better opportunity at the school district.”
Offer sheets obtained by the NBC10 Investigators show Philadelphia schools offered $12.51 an hour to the workers.
“Black and white it said, ‘Congratulations, you are hired for $12.51 an hour,’” the worker said.
The workers were in for a shock in September however, when they received letters from the district which said, “We are sorry…you were informed of and set up for an incorrect salary.”
The new salary for the workers is $9.51 an hour, a pay cut that amounts to $120 per week and $6,240 a year.
“That’s a lot,” said another worker who also wanted to remain anonymous. “Our son just went to college. That’s a lot.”
NBC10 reached out to Philadelphia School District spokesperson Fernando Gallard about the cut.
“They made a mistake,” he said. “A clerk put in the wrong salary.”
NBC10 also asked to speak to the person with direct accountability for the mistake. We were told the district does not have a chief financial officer and the position is waiting to be filled. Gallard told NBC10 the district is legally allowed to take back money that they overpaid.
“We can legally, actually deduct someone’s pay if that person has been overpaid,” he said.
Gallard also said the fact that the district caught the mistake shows that they’re protecting taxpayer money. As for whether or not the district expects the workers to accept the pay cuts, Gallard said it was “up to the individual to continue working for us of course and accept the job.”
“We hope that they do,” he said.
NBC10 also spoke to Karl Johnson, the Union representative for Philadelphia School maintenance workers.
“The morale is low,” he said. “But we’re fighting to get this resolved. I think it’s unfair to ask the lowest paid workers to give more money.”
The Union has filed a grievance. Meanwhile some of the workers say they may have to find a new job.
“If they can’t rectify this then I’m probably going to have to find something else,” one of the workers said.
The school district told NBC10 they were only following the pay schedule set up by the union contract and that it would take up to six months to collect all the overpaid money.
“The same way they took it from us, just like that they can give it back to us just like that,” a worker said. “It’s wrong.”