Judge dismisses union lawsuit against Memphis over wage reduction

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that labor unions filed to challenge the 2011 decision by the city of Memphis to cut employees’ wages 4.6 percent, reports the Commercial Appeal.

A trial had been set for Sept. 15, but on Monday, U.S. District Judge Samuel H. Mays approved the city’s motion for summary judgment, a step that ends the case for now.

The ruling calls into question the validity of the city’s agreements with labor unions.

Municipal labor unions had argued that the wage cut violated terms of contracts called memorandums of understanding (MOUs) that they had negotiated with the city. The judge wrote that those agreements don’t apply unless the Memphis City Council chooses to fund them.

“Despite lengthy discovery, there is no evidence that the mayor promised to present a budget to the City Council that fully funded the wage terms of the MOUs,” Mays wrote. “The record demonstrates that the MOUs were negotiated under the mutual understanding that the City Council might later reduce wages.”

Allan Wade, an attorney for the city, said the decision validates the view that the City Council has the freedom to make decisions that are in the government’s best interest.

“To that extent, I think it’s a big victory for the taxpayers of the city,” said Wade.