13 is a lucky number for one group of city employees. When former Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune gave city workers a pay cut back in 2003, 13 workers filed a lawsuit, saying the cut violated the city charter.
This week a judge said they were right. News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says a group of city workers fought city hall and won.
Faced with a financial crisis, Mayor LaFortune cut city workers salaries not just once but twice, for a total of 4.7 percent. That made workers mad. 13 of them were mad enough to sue.
"You did it wrong, you can't just slash 4.7 percent from the pay of these employees and do it unilaterally." Their attorney, Rick Dunn, says the pay cut should have been reviewed by the civil service commission and wasn't. On Wednesday, 3 long years later, a judge agreed. "We're obviously pleased, we've all along thought we were correct in our assertion that then Mayor LaFortune had not followed policies and procedures."
So how much money does the city owe the workers? "Well, we've done some preliminary estimates and we don't know all the exact numbers, because there will some overtime effect for some of the employees that had overtime during the period, but at this point, it's approximately $50,000." Human Resources Director Michael Bates says the money would come out of the city's utilities or sinking fund and wouldn't affect day-to-day operations. "I think in terms of spending resources wisely for the citizens of Tulsa, $50,000 is still a considerable amount of money, but it's not an amount the city couldn't handle."
And in case you're wondering, the time for additional grievances has expired, so it's likely too late for any more city workers to jump on the back pay bandwagon.
Rick Dunn: "I got some calls today."
Steve Berg: "Really?"
Rick Dunn: "Just this morning."