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Judge Declares Wayne County Worker Pay Cut Invalid

DETROIT (WWJ) - A judge has decided that Robert Ficano needed the Wayne County Commission's approval before cutting pay to union workers.

3rd Circuit Court Judge John Murphy ruled that the commission never signed off on the 20 percent cut, so the new wage scale for county union workers is a non-starter. And, that includes back pay, stretching back to late last year.

"AFSCME employees do not work exclusively for the County Executive. They are employees of Wayne County and as such, the County Commission…has ultimate authority through the Charter and county ordinances to approve changes in pay rates. As a result, the December 1, 2010 unilateral imposition of the last best offer ... is invalid," reads the ruling.

The suite was brought by Michigan Council AFSCME 25 and AFSCME Locals 25, 101 and 409.

"I'm hopeful that we can sit down and resolve the issue. I think the first step is to restore those people's wages. We can talk about the back pay later," AFSCME Council 25 president Al Garrett told WWJ Newsradio 950.

"Right now we've got folks who are losing their homes, cars and even some folks who have quit because they couldn't make it on the 20 percent pay cut," he said.

Garrett said the ruling means the county owes working families money.

"We intend to get every penny Bob Ficano owes the working men and women at the county. The county executive's illegal action took money away from families who needed it to do everything from pay the house note to buy baby food. Somebody needs to be held accountable for the unnecessary pain caused by this illegal action," Garrett said.

Ficano's office issued the following written statement:

"The decision by Judge John Murphy is clearly erroneous. We plan to appeal this ruling and are very optimistic that this decision will be overturned. We have a long-standing relationship with AFSCME. We have been in labor negotiations since 2008 and have maintained an open line of communication during this process."

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