MILWAUKEE COUNTY, WI – About 40 Milwaukee County sheriff’s deputies got a reprieve from a New Year’s layoff Thursday, when a judge granted a temporary injunction in favor of the deputies’ union.
The move by Milwaukee County Circuit Judge William Pocan means the planned layoffs will be delayed at least a month, when hearings on the details of how the layoff list was assembled will be held by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission and the county Civil Service Commission.
The layoffs had been slated to happen Dec. 31.
The 2012 county budget cut deeply into the Sheriff’s Department, forcing a maximum of 61 layoffs. Retirements have offset at least 19 and perhaps 21 of the layoffs, meaning the maximum number tossed from their jobs is down to about 40.
The Milwaukee County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association filed suit over the layoff list, contending that errors were made in the selections. The list in some instances failed to follow seniority rules, required by the deputies’ contract with the county, said Roy Felber, president of the deputy association.
The union argued that two people not placed on the layoff list should have been. Those officers, Douglas Holton and Collin Briggs, “have been improperly left off the 2011 layoff list due to ineffective promotions,” according to the union.
Briggs was promoted to captain about a year ago by Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. to lead his Discipline, Order, Training boot-camp style inmate program at the Milwaukee County Correctional Facility – South. Holton’s rank and current job assignment weren’t immediately available.
Briggs and Holton did not take required civil service exams before their promotions, according to the union. The county argued that the union’s complaint on that point should be rejected, saying such complaints need to be filed within 90 days of a promotion.
The judge’s ruling said it wasn’t clear the 90-day rule applied.
Felber said the injunction at least gives the deputies on the layoff list another month of work during the holiday season. He said it was unfortunate the County Board and County Executive Chris Abele chose to use deputy layoffs to balance the county’s 2012 budget.
Clarke didn’t immediately return a call.