Scientists sent to help clean up oil spill to get minimum wage
July 8, 2010
A dozen California scientists currently working on the major BP oil spill in the Gulf are scheduled to have their pay slashed to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour by order of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. [Capitol Weekly]
The scientists are employed by California’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response, making them state employees and subject to the governor’s recent order to slash state salaries during the current budget negotiations. The team of scientists are on duty in the Gulf–by order of the governor.
State controller John Chiang, a Democrat, is still refusing to comply with the governor’s mandate, claiming his computer system is too outdated to manage a paycut for 200,000 employees.
The California scientists are spending 18-hour days, combing the Louisiana shorelines for slick black birds and mapping out the plumes of billowing oil. They are responsible for assessing the magnitude of damage done to the environment and its wildlife.
Several of the scientists already work two jobs to make ends meet. They may not be able to continue their work in the Gulf without overtime or regular pay. Under the governor’s order, they will come home to find their checks depleted to a fifth of their usual pay rate, according to workers’ estimates.
“Gov. Schwarzenegger had no problem taking credit for ordering dozens of scientists to work long hours in support of the Gulf oil spill cleanup,” said one observer. “They will be saddened to hear that they may come back to a minimum wage paycheck.”