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Prince George's County Furloughs Ruled Unconstitutional

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Prince George's County executives warn that county employees may suffer as a result of a ruling against furloughs. A federal judge found them unconstitutional.

The unpaid furloughs of 5,900 employees saved the financially strapped county $17 million, but U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams ruled that the furloughs violate labor contracts. In a ruling brought by employees' unions, the judge said the county could have taken more moderate measures to save money.

The county says it implemented furloughs rather than lay off large numbers of employees. The office of the county executive now says it will file an immediate appeal of the ruling in an effort to save jobs.

The head of the local police union, Vince Canales, calls the ruling a victory for employee rights but says there's a lot of work ahead.

"I'm hoping that this will open up some doors for some discussion, maybe trying to figure out a way to resolve this, that will also lead to some reform as far as how the county in the future may decide to use furlough provision."

The county proceeded with the first round of furloughs last September after the unions refused to give up cost of living adjustments.

Natalie Neumann reports....

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