Court of Appeals Overturns Furlough Decision

P.G. County | 6/25/2010, 12:07 p.m.

The United States Court of Appeals today overturned a ruling that prevented Prince George's County from furloughing its employees in September 2008.
The reversal by the Court of Appeals overturned a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. that furlough contravened the unions' contracts. The Court of Appeals said the unions' collective bargaining agreements were not violated.

The 80 hours of furloughs were necessary because of a $57 million deficit in the FY 2009. The furloughs were designed to save up to $17 million.
"... the district court erred in ruling ... that the (collective bargaining agreements) were impaired," the appeals court said.

County Executive Jack Johnson said that the downturn in the economy required cuts to be made. He said the furlough decision was made in order to save jobs.

"I am personally and professionally ecstatic about the Court of Appeals' ruling," Johnson said. "The District Court's ruling was one of most troubling decisions made by a court. We are glad the federal appeals court understood the circumstances we were working under in this economy."

The Court of Appeals also said that the unions were unable "to identify any provisions in the applicable collective bargaining agreement that actually prohibits furloughs."

"In fact, the Unions are unable to identify any authority that has invalidated, under the Contract Clause, a statutory provision reserving to a governmental entity a limited right to modify its own contracts. Indeed, such a rule would contradict Supreme Court precedent concerning the incorporation of preexisting law into contracts," the court said.