After a ruling calling Prince George's County's 2008 furloughs unconstitutional, labor unions now have case law to use as a warning for future wage cuts.
Prince George's county furloughed 59-hundred employees to save $17 million, but U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams ruled that the furloughs violated labor contracts.
In a suit brought by employees' unions, the judge said the county could have used different measures to save money.
Jeffery Hirsch, a Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law, says the circumstances of the Prince George's case are unusual, but the ruling puts governments on notice. "Any government union is certainly going to wave this case around anytime there is any suggestion about the need for a furlough, pullbacks and wage cuts. It's at the minimum really going to make them think twice about it and make sure they have their ducks in a row," says Hirsch.
The county plans to appeal the ruling and warns that if it stands, workers could lose their jobs.
Natalie Neumann reports....