Judge halts state worker furloughs

A federal judge has issued an order blocking Gov. David Paterson from imposing furloughs on about 100,000 state workers.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn says that until he rules on the union lawsuits seeking an injunction, Paterson and lawmakers are temporarily blocked from implementing any furloughs.

The Legislature approved unpaid furloughs one day a week in a short-term funding measure approved this week.

Kahn says in his order Wednesday that the unions have shown a permanent 20 percent loss in wages or salaries would constitute irreparable harm. He has set a deadline for reply briefs and scheduled a hearing for May 26.

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Gov. David Paterson is rescinding raises to some staff, saying unions were using the promotions to distract the public in a fight over furloughs of unionized state workers.

Public employee unions had accused the Democrat of hypocrisy for promoting some of his staff even as he tries to furlough state workers to save money.

Paterson spokesman Morgan Hook says Wednesday the governor will reverse the raises of between $5,000 and $10,000 to four press aides. They're filling positions vacated when his communications director and press secretary resigned amid scandals over a Paterson aide accused in a domestic violence case and free World Series tickets provided to the governor by the New York Yankees.

Hook says that even with the promotions, executive chamber salaries were down more than $300,000.