MEMPHIS, TN - It was a vote to save money, but now the Memphis City Council could find itself spending a pretty penny after 13 public employee unions, representing nearly 5,000 city employees, sued the City in federal court.
"We have yet to be served," Memphis City Attorney Herman Morris tells abc24.com via email, "but once we are, we will review the complaint and vigorously defend against it."
The unions filed the suit Monday in federal court, according to Tim Taylor, who is representing the unions. The suit alleges a recent city council vote to cut employee pay violates the employees 1st and 14th amendment rights.
"The basic core of the lawsuit is, a deal is a deal," says Taylor.
At issue, the June 21st, 2011 vote by the City Council to cut the number of paid holidays for city employees from 13 to one. It equated to a 4.6 percent wage decrease.
"By implementing a 4.6 percent pay reduction," Taylor tells abc24.com, "it is clearly in violation of the agreements that were negotiated under the impasse ordinance."
"I don't want anyone to think the city is going to bow to the pressure of one lawsuit," City Council Chairman Myron Lowery says in response to the litigation.
"We are going to do what we think is right," he says, "and what's in the best interest of all of our citizens. We are not going to be bullied into doing one thing or another because of a lawsuit."
Taylor says the suit seeks a preliminary injunction, along with damages and a judgement against the city.
Taylor says the city has 21 days to respond to the suit.