A lunchtime crowd of about 300 cheered the city’s top labor leaders Wednesday outside City Hall, as they angrily denounced Mayor Nutter for his handling of negotiations with municipal workers.
They demanded that he immediately begin paying raises to city firefighters, twice ordered by arbitration but so far delayed by the administration’s appeals to the courts, claiming it can’t afford the raises. They also urged Nutter to withdraw a city petition to the state Supreme Court, essentially seeking the court’s permission to impose contract terms on some 6,800 members of AFSCME District Council 33.
“He’s trying to take away our right to collective bargaining,” said Pat Eiding, president of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO, urging Nutter to go back to negotiations with DC 33 and its sister union, AFSCME District Council 47. Both have been continuing to work, without contracts or wage increases, since mid-2009.
The talks have stalemated over the Nutter administration’s demands for newly-hired workers to go into a less -expensive pension plan and for authority to furlough employees for up to three weeks each year.
The unions are predicting a massive show of force when Nutter appears in City Council chambers Thursday to present his budget proposal for the fiscal year starting July 1.
“Council gave themselves a raise that they didn’t give the unions,” said Henry Nicholas, national president of the hospital and health care workers unions, criticizing Council for not doing anything to help the city unions in their fight with the Nutter administration. “We might not let ‘em ….in there. They’re not doing anything while they are there.”