An update to our cover story in this week’s edition of The Memphis News on the effort by 13 unions representing city employees to reopen the just-ended city budget season.
The unions filed a lawsuit in Memphis Federal Court in July making a case for a court order that would stop a planned and about to be implemented 4.6 percent pay cut as well as a voluntary buyout offer to city sanitation workers.
At the center of the lawsuit are memoranda of understanding with each of the unions in which they agreed to forego any pay raise for the fiscal year that began July 1 but did not agree to a pay cut.
The city of Memphis has not filed its response yet and is asking for more time citing the complexity of the separate memoranda – which in government speak are called MOUs. The city filing also adds that the MOUs are “non-binding.”
“The negotiations were done separately with each plaintiff union,” reads the city filing by senior assistant city attorney Jill Madajczyk and deputy city attorney Regina Newman. “Therefore, counsel for the city must undertake extensive factual inquiry before responding to the plaintiffs’ complaint.”
Attorneys Deborah Godwin and Timothy Taylor, representing the unions, responded by accusing the city of intentionally seeking to delay a hearing on their request for an injunction. They contend the complexity of the individual agreements and how the terms were arrived at are not at issue.
“Plaintiffs respectfully submit that this case is essentially legal in nature – and there are few if any factual disputes,” their latest filing reads.
Federal Judge Hardy Mays granted the city’s request for more time to respond. The deadline is now Aug. 8.