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Union Threatens Suit Over Second Veto of Raises

Nov. 26, 2004 — The members of the local United Steelworkers of America union have had enough of the government's failure to increase wages as negotiated two years ago.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's recent line-item veto of the wage increase in the 2005 budget from the 25th Legislature was the "last straw."
Union president Luis "Tito" Morales said earlier this week he would face the governor in court on the issue.
"You can't veto an override," Morales said.
James O'Bryan, Government House spokesman, said Friday that "obviously, the governor shares a different view," as far as vetoing overrides is concerned.
"We will react to that when any legal documents are brought before us," O'Bryan said of Morales' statements. "Mr. Morales is just talking now."
"I don't know the premise of his [Morales'] claims," Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg said Friday afternoon. Donastorg said "technically" the governor cannot veto something that has been overrriden. However, he said Turnbull's veto was of an appropriation in the FY 2005 budget for the raises – a budget that had not been vetoed before – not a second veto of the bill calling for the raises.
"That's something for their respective legal counsels to work out," Donastorg said.
Turnbull's veto was the second time in six months he had taken action against the pay increases for union workers. (See "Senators Upset With Governor's Handling of Budget").
In July, by a motion made by Senate President David Jones, the Legislature overrode Turnbull's first veto of the pay raises. Turnbull said at the time the government did not have the money to sustain the raises.
The Legislature fussed over the 2005 budget for days in order to find a way to fund the raises.
At first, under the direction of Chairman Donastorg, who had voted against the override, the Finance Committee sought to fund the raises by cutting vacant positions in various departments that had been vacant for years. (See "Senate Committee Axes Taxes, Funds Union Workers").
However, the senators, after battling among themselves for several days, decided to reinstate the department cuts and fund the raises from the General Fund based on increased projected revenues expected to come from the Economic Development Commission program and a reduction of the income tax set-aside. (See "Budget Package Finally Is Approved").
In vetoing the raises a second time, Turnbull blamed new uncertainties with the EDC program, which had been given a blow when President George W. Bush signed the Jobs Bill into law in October. (See "Governor Says No to Raises, Cites EDC Problems" ).
Angered by Turnbull's decision, Morales is now seeking the lawsuit.
"The override stands," Morales said.
Sen. Roosevelt David said Friday he was aware of the union's plans for a lawsuit, but the Legislature had no plans of taking up the matter.
David also said the governor cannot veto an override.
"The executive branch does have a responsibility to pay," David said. "It's the law."

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