Pr. Geo.'s Unions Sue Over Unpaid Furloughs
A coalition of five unions representing public safety unions in Prince George's County filed suit in circuit court today, arguing the county is in breach of contracts with their members because the County Council agreed to a plan to furlough workers for 80 hours between now and mid-June.
According to the suit, the county must honor contracts it negotiated with each of the unions, which represent police officers, firefighters, correctional officers, deputy sheriffs and civilians working for the police department. The suit argues that a county does not truly face a budget shortfall, as the county executive and council have said, because it maintains a reserve fund. County personnel law allows workers to be furloughed when a budget shortfall exists.
However, the union suit notes the county has for years had a policy of maintaining 7 percent of all county revenues in a reserve fund, though the county charter requires a fund of only 5 percent. The county has reserves of $44 million even beyond the 7 percent figure, county leaders have acknowledged.
County Executive Jack B. Johnson has said the county projects a budget shortfall of $57 million by the year's end and the furloughs are needed to close the gap. A spokesman for Johnson said county leaders had received the lawsuit but had not yet reviewed it and had no comment.
September 18, 2008; 4:26 PM ET
Categories: Prince George's County , Rosalind Helderman
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