Pr. George's Officials Respond to Furloughs Decision
Prince George's County Council Chairperson Marilynn M. Bland (D-Clinton) weighed in this afternoon (sort of) on a bombshell federal court decision Tuesday which found the county's furloughs last fiscal year to be unconstitutional.
Bland said the council was "disappointed" by the ruling, which may force the county to repay $17 million in lost wages to 5,900 employees in the midst of an economic downturn. But she declined to delve into specifics, citing the ongoing legal battle.
"The Council is disappointed y the lawsuit filed by the unions regarding the furloughs, and the recent Court decision in that matter. The fiscal crisis plaguing our nation, the state of Maryland, and other jurisdictions, remains the greatest challenge confronting Prince George's County today. In the spirit of 'shared sacrifice,' we must all continue to pull together and do our part to weather this financial storm. Everyone must realize that in order to protect jobs and core services to our citizens, furloughs were instituted. Layoffs are a much less desirable alternative. It would be inappropriate to comment further, as an appeal will be filed, and this is a matter of ongoing litigation."
Meanwhile, County Executive Jack B. Johnson's office issued a slightly tweaked version of its original response to the ruling:
"President Obama has said we are in the midst of a deep economic crisis. As a result of this crisis, the county made a difficult decision to furlough its employees for 10 days, saving $17 million. Our decision, which was not taken lightly, was made to implement the furlough plan rather than lay off hundreds of employees.The court has substituted its judgment without acknowledging the economic challenges facing the country. To comply with the court's opinion will result in large numbers of layoffs and cuts in government services. In order to protect their jobs and the lives of employees and their families, as well as the residents of this county, we will be filing a prompt appeal to the Court's decision."
It's anyone's guess whether the ruling will be overturned. Meanwhile, unions everywhere are scrambling to see whether the judge's opinion can help them battle furloughs in other jurisdictions.
August 19, 2009; 6:25 PM ET
Categories: Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County
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