A thrice-rejected plan to repay thousands of District workers for furlough days city leaders forced them to take last year is poised to resurface, D.C. officials and union leaders said.
"I still believe very strongly that public employees in the District of Columbia will receive reimbursement," said Geo Johnson, executive director of the local affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. "There was confusion that may have taken place. I think as they go back and rethink that, I think folks will reconsider it."
D.C. Council aides also acknowledged lawmakers were continuing negotiations and that the council was likely to vote on the issue again in the future.
Leading a city flush with surprise cash, District officials have debated for months about the fate of nearly $80 million.
Though lawmakers and Mayor Vincent Gray have reached agreements on some spending, the mayor's proposal to pay city workers for the four furlough days they were required to take in 2011 has drawn the most debate.
So far, lawmakers have defeated three furlough payment proposals: a $19 million version that would have paid for four furlough days; a $22 million plan that would have also paid the four full days; and a smaller plan that would have spent $22 million to pay for two furlough days, along with boosts to health care and housing programs.
Since D.C. officials announced the District's government was on firm financial footing, labor unions have quietly pushed for the payment for the furlough days, which city leaders ordered as they tried to close a $188 million deficit.
"Some people made some statements that everyone had to tighten their belts," Johnson said. "Well, we tightened our belts for the wrong reason."
Another labor leader, Joslyn Williams, president of the AFL-CIO's chapter in the District, has said failing to pay for the furlough days would amount to "government-sanctioned robbery."
When the council might take up the furlough days again, though, remains an open question. While the body's schedule could change, its next legislative meeting is scheduled for June 5.