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June 25, 2010 at 10:01 AM

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Union files lawsuit to stop state furloughs

Posted by Andrew Garber


The Washington Federation of State Employees filed a lawsuit Friday seeking to block the state from furloughing workers 10 days between now and June 2011 to save money.

"It's disparate treatment ... you could have a secretary at one agency who would be exempted from furloughs and a secretary at another agency who wouldn't, but is doing the same work. One gets a cut in pay and one doesn't," said Tim Welch, a spokesman for the union.

The Legislature passed a law earlier this year that would furlough up to a third of the state's 110,000 workers. In some cases, entire state agencies are exempted, such as the state Department of Revenue. In other instances only part of the agency is exempt. For example, state troopers are exempt but the agency's office staff is not.

The first furlough day is supposed to happen on July 12. Each day of furlough is projected to save the state general fund around $3.8 million. The law was part of the Legislature's plan to close a multi-billion dollar shortfall in the current budget.

The union's press release is on the jump.


6/25/10

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

STATE EMPLOYEES UNION FILES LAWSUIT TO BLOCK FURLOUGHS; CHARGES VIOLATION OF 14TH AMENDMENT OF U.S. CONSTITUTION, AMONG OTHERS

CONTACTS: Tim Welch, (360) 481-5092; Greg Devereux, (360) 951-6385.

The Washington Federation of State Employees this morning (June 25) filed a lawsuit to block the state furloughs set to start July 12.

The motion for a preliminary injunction asks the Thurston County Superior Court to put the brakes on the 10 furlough days until a number of legal, constitutional and administrative issues can be sorted out.

The lawsuit alleges, in part, that the furlough plan violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause and the state constitution's guarantee of freedom from contract impairment.

The union also asks the court to freeze the furloughs so the grievance the union filed Tuesday and unfair labor practice complaint filed yesterday can be resolved.

A hearing on the motion is expected July 2.

Bargaining with 23 agencies that chose to impose the full 10 furlough days is set for July 6 and 7. Bargaining with agencies that chose alternative plans hasn't been set.

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