Court ruling a decade of litigation in the making
JOSH MROZINSKI | Times-Tribune.com
October 23, 2011
A decade of rhetoric and litigation between the city and its public safety unions led to a state Supreme Court ruling Wednesday that is forcing Scranton to pay unspecified millions of dollars for interest arbitration awards.
Sparked by changes to the 2002 recovery plan – which was ultimately approved by voters – and a failure to agree on new contracts, the conflict began with arbitration and continued into the state’s highest court.
On Wednesday, the court agreed with the unions “that Section 252 of Act 47 does not impinge upon interest arbitration awards,” according to court documents. That section of the distressed cities legislation says a collective bargaining agreement or arbitration settlement “shall not” violate an adopted recovery plan. Act 111 governs police and fire collective bargaining units.
“The people of the city voted for the recovery plan, and the judges ignored the people who have to pay the taxes,” Mayor Chris Doherty said. “We’re committed to moving the city forward but there is a real question to whether Act 47 is a valid program.”
The mayor said the ruling means there will be tax increases and layoffs. He declined to describe how many layoffs or the cost of the lawsuit, noting neither has been finalized. The mayor is required under the Home Rule Charter to present the budget proposal by Nov. 15.
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