ALBANY, N.Y, May 28, 2010 - New York State United Teachers, on behalf of its higher-education affiliates, hailed a federal court judge's ruling today blocking the Paterson administration's plan to furlough state employees.
In granting the preliminary injunction, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence E. Kahn agreed with NYSUT that Gov. Paterson's furlough plan - included in the passage of an emergency-spending bill - was unconstitutional.
"Judge Kahn's ruling makes it clear that this misguided attempt violated contracts that were negotiated in good faith with the state's dedicated public work force," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "This ill-advised plan would have hurt New York's working families and we are heartened, but not surprised, by this important decision."
NYSUT provided counsel to its higher education affiliates who were litigants in the suit - United University Professions and the Professional Staff Congress, which represents a combined 55,000 faculty and professional staff on SUNY and CUNY campuses, respectively. Other litigants included the state's Civil Service Employees Association and the Public Employees Federation.
NYSUT argued the furlough plan violated the Constitution's "contract clause," which prohibits states from passing legislation that impairs contract obligations. Kahn agreed, stating in his ruling that "it is unreasonable to impose such an impairment through emergency appropriation bills, particularly when there is a unified legislative voice denying the very reasonableness and necessity of the enactment."
Judge Kahn's ruling will remain in effect while the court decides whether to issue a permanent injunction.
"While we are mindful of the very real fiscal challenges faced by our state, the governor's plan was an arbitrary one that actually would have aggravated New York's, economic problems by taking money out of the economy," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta. "We are very pleased by Judge Kahn's ruling and we will continue to do everything in our power to protect our members and their livelihoods from such illegitimate actions."
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