Union files suit trying to block layoffs

LISBON -- East Liverpool's plan to furlough a half-dozen police officers to save money is being contested in court. The Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing about 20 city police officers, filed a lawsuit Monday in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court asking a judge to immediately block the layoffs, which are set to take effect Sunday. The lawsuit also seeks a permanent injunction against idling the officers until the city can demonstrate the need for the move and prove it will not imperil city residents' safety. Newly elected Mayor James Swoger, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, was unavailable to comment. Besides jeopardizing community safety, the furloughs are unwarranted and excessive, the lawsuit claims. It also declares, without elaborating, that the layoffs violate the city's labor pact with police. The case has been assigned to Judge C. Ashley Pike.