2 labor unions sue to block Schmoke furloughs

February 14, 1992|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Staff Writer

Two of Baltimore's largest municipal labor unions joined yesterday in suing city government to block Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's plans that would cut their members' pay by five days.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, also challenges the so-called "Neall amendment," a one-year provision added to state law last fall that broadens the power of local governments to invade labor contracts to reduce spending. The suit calls the provision

unconstitutional.

The suit was filed by the City Union of Baltimore and the Baltimore Teachers Union, which together represent 15,000 employees -- more than half the city's 26,600-person work force.

"The five-day furlough plan is just a nice way of saying that the city employees are forced to accept a 2 percent wage decrease," Cheryl D. Glenn, president of CUB, said.

The furlough plan, which Mr. Schmoke announced last month, deducts a half-day's pay from the salaries of city employees for 10 pay periods. In effect, workers will not be paid for five holidays -- Good Friday, Memorial Day and the birthdays of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.

Mr. Schmoke announced the plan as a money-saving measure for a city that has been hit by $40 million in state budget cuts this fiscal year.

Edward J. Gallagher, the city's budget chief, said the furloughs are expected to save the city $15.1 million. Without them, Mr. Schmoke has warned, the city could have to lay off hundreds of employees.

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