Unions won’t appeal judge’s dismissal of lawsuit to block Memphis wage cuts

The lawsuit that city of Memphis employee labor unions filed in 2011 to stop a 4.6 percent wage cut has reached its end, according to the Commercial Appeal.

A federal judge dismissed the unions’ lawsuit last month, and they have decided not to appeal, union attorney Deborah Godwin said Tuesday.

She said the July ruling by U.S. District Judge Samuel H. Mays Jr. doesn’t attack the validity of the unions’ agreements with the city or the impasse procedure, which is a method for resolving stalled contract negotiations. She also said unions believe the lawsuit prompted the Memphis City Council last year to reverse the 4.6 percent wage cut.

Unions could still have pursued back pay, but chose not to, she said.

“And it was also felt that even if we won at the Court of Appeals, that the likelihood of our ever collecting the money from the city — given its recent financial actions — would be slim to none,” she said.

The lawsuit was part of an ongoing conflict between the Memphis government and the labor unions that represent police officers, firefighters and other employees. The city is trying to cut the costs of employee and retiree benefits, including health care. The unions have responded with demonstrations, legal action, publicity campaigns and support of pro-union candidates in elections.