HUNTINGTON — Although the city of Huntington has moved forward with its reduced and compressed work week, attorneys and the workers’ union still intend to argue the matter in court.
On July 7, Cabell Circuit Judge F. Jane Hustead denied a petition by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 598 to issue a temporary injunction that would have prevented Mayor Kim Wolfe from implementing the reduced and compressed work week policy.
But, Hustead said, her decision to deny the temporary injunction is not a final ruling on the merits of the case, as she has instructed attorneys for both sides to prepare for a declaratory judgment hearing sometime in the near future.
The schedule changes are part of Wolfe’s cost-cutting strategy to offset a budget shortfall brought on by recession-weakened revenues. There are about 125 employees that are affected by the shortened work week that work in City Hall-based offices and several public works departments.
By reducing employees’ pay by 10 percent through the shortened work weeks, Wolfe said the reductions will result in a savings of $425,000.
Wolfe’s administration chose to reduce the work week from 40 to 36 hours instead of simply cutting employees’ rate of pay and salaries by 10 percent.
Attorneys for AFSCME Local 598, argued Wolfe’s plan is a breach of the union’s collective bargaining agreement, which defines a work week for employees as eight hours per day, 40 hours per week.
Wolfe said the changes were the best way to avoid massive service reductions and layoffs.