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John Chiang, a Democrat, is still refusing to comply with the governor’s mandate, claiming his computer system is too outdated to manage a paycut for 200,000 employees.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.”

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Everybody avoids mentioning who is really responsible and should be paying these folks (top dollar) for the clean-up. (“Let the taxpayers do it.”)

Politicians bluster, generally doing diddly, and take all the credit to fluff up their green cred.

The folks actually doing the grunt work and making a difference get the shaft.

It’s the American Way!

Ridiculous- These people are away from their homes, doing unsafe work, work that benefits us all, potentially contacting very large amounts of toxic chemicals.

In some cases the Scientists and other staff are working overtime long hours in harsh conditions using their own clothes and equipment. Most would not charge full overtime if they were at regular pay. They are far from their hotel rooms, if they have them. They don’t get to choose when they eat lunch, or dinner, or where to get it. Or how to get cheeper food. Some have 6 hours to wash the oil off and sleep a dreamless exhausted sleep. Last time I was in the Big Easy, many years ago, I got a $40 per diem- I could spent up to that much on the expense of eating each day, since I was away from home on the job.

These brave men and women are getting 5$ per hour after taxes!

They will likely get stiffed on their expenses also!

Why isn’t BP picking up this tab?

Perhaps Meg Whitman will make up the loss in salary for the 200,000 state employees. That would be a better use of her funds and guarantee her election.

Isn’t it time our State Legislators get their pay cut? Their vindictive ways have screwed up our budgets for many years and cutting state employees wages hasn’t/won’t changed their habits!!!