Thousands of D.C. workers can expect to receive cash windfalls by Labor Day after D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed a proposal Wednesday that will pay employees for furlough days they were forced to take in 2011 as city leaders scrambled to balance the budget.
"While we based the furloughs on the best information that we had at the time, it turned out that we didn't need those furloughs," Gray said. "We are signing a bill today that approves the return of the furlough dollars to those who were furloughed."
The $22 million plan will pay most employees for four furlough days city leaders mandated as they moved to close a massive budget shortfall. The furloughs converted four paid holidays to unpaid days, but the city ultimately posted a $240 million budget surplus.
A top labor official cheered the plan.
"Workers do not mind making sacrifices in hard times, but they also expect in good times that they will be recognized and rewarded," said Joslyn Williams, the president of the D.C. affiliate of the AFL-CIO labor federation.
The proposal -- funded with about $80 million in surprise revenue -- was a months-long legislative headache for Gray. The D.C. Council repeatedly voted down the measure, but it ultimately cleared the legislature on June 5.
"I felt it was the right thing to do, and eventually enough people felt it was the right thing to do," Gray said.SClBCity employees can reject the payments, the mayor said. Gray said he would not accept compensation for his own furlough days.