MEMPHIS, TN - Memphis City workers face a pay cut close to 5-percent when the new city budget goes into effect on July 1st, 2011. But leaders with AFSCME Local 1733 believe the cuts are illegal, and they're planning to fight the city over them.
In April, the city reached an agreement with local unions saying no pay increases or pay cuts. When council members passed the decrease, union reps say they broke the law.
"Essentially, what you're talking about there is a bundling, if you will, of furloughs, holiday pay reductions, and a 4.6 percent pay reduction," says George Little, Chief Administrative Officer with the City of Memphis.
It's that 4.6 percent reduction that has local unions crying foul.
"The city asked us to take zero pay cuts, zero increases," says Shelley Seeberg, administrator of AFSCME Local 1733. "Now less than two months later, we're now being told we're going to lose 4.6 percent of our salary."
Seeberg represents about 1,000 city employees. She says union documents will prove the city broke the law.
"These are documents that are 30 years old," says Seeberg. "They've always been upheld in this community and this city. Now they're being ignored."
City leaders told us they hope the cuts are temporary.
"Hopefully we can give some of this reduction back to employees before this fiscal year gets too far away from us," Little tells abc24.com.
But Seeburg's not buying it.
"We believe the city council hasn't negotiated in good faith with the unions," she says.
That's why on Friday, July 1st, 2011, she and AFSCME local 1733 will be filing a class action grievance against the city.
"There's a process," says Seeberg. "That process should have been followed, and we will vigorously support it."
How the city council came up with the 4.6 percent cut is a little complicated. The Wharton administration eliminated 12 paid holidays. The money that workers would have been paid for those days was added up and then subtracted from yearly salaries.