Thursday, June 19, 2008

'Non-essential' PA workers sue Rendell over furloughs

You didn't think those 25,000 "non-essential" state workers were going to put up with the threat of job furloughs by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell without a fight, did you?

Three unions representing state workers facing a July 1 furlough if the state Legislature does not approve a new budget by June 30 filed a lawsuit Thursday.

The unions want Commonwealth Court to decided whether Gov. Rendell has the authority to continue to employ all Pennsylvania workers who are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Rendell said he is forced to furlough state workers if there's a budget impasse or the state would face millions in daily fines by the federal government.

Republican Legislative leaders argue that the furlough threat is a bargaining ploy by Rendell, who has failed to show any court cases that say the state could be fined by the federal government if it continues to pay workers after the budget deadline has passed.

"An annual furlough is no way to pass a budget," said David R. Fillman, executive cirector for Council 13 of AFSCME. "The governor is under no legal requirement to implement a furlough without a budget and, once again, our members are stuck in the middle of a political tug-of-war."

If all this sounds like deja vu all over again, you'll recall that Rendell furloughed the "non-essential" state workers for one day in 2007, but after a budget agreement was reached, all 25,000 workers were paid for the missed day of work under an agreement Rendell worked out with the Legislature.

So the "furlough" turned out to be an extra day of paid vacation courtesy of Rendell and the Harrisburg bunch with the Pennsylvania taxpayer picking up the tab.

Read more about the lawsuit (including a copy of the letter the unions sent to Rendell) at the link below.

State Employees Union Files Lawsuit

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