The Philadelphia firefighters union on Thursday backed off its plan to oust Mayor Nutter from office through a recall election, saying their odds of success in “an uphill and costly legal battle” were too much.
“This decision should in no way be construed as a softening of the fire fighters' and paramedics' disdain for this callous mayor, who continues to defy the law by denying our members their binding arbitration award, which was upheld twice by a neutral arbitrator and once by a Common Pleas Court judge,” said Bill Gault, president of Local 22 of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
While there is a recall provision in the city charter, that measure was struck down by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the 1970s, when an electoral coup was attempted on then-Mayor Frank Rizzo.
There are now no recall elections of state or municipal officials in Pennsylvania, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Thus, to actually remove Nutter from office, the firefighters would have had to appeal their way up to the state’s high court and win - not to mention convince a majority of Philadelphia voters to kick out the mayor with three years left in his final term.
The firefighters are angry with Nutter because he has continually appealed decisions that would have awarded the firefighters, who have been working without a contract since 2009, retroactive pay raises, among other benefits.
The administration says the city simply can’t afford it. The firefighters, who are not allowed to strike under state law, say that’s bologna and have taken to the streets in creative ways to show their displeasure.
The recall plan was announced at their anti-Nutter demonstration Tuesday during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the city’s first new fire station in 15 years.
The firefighters walked out as the event began and chanted "Re-call, re-call" at Nutter from outside. They said they would launch a campaign to collect the 45,000 signatures needed (under the struck-down charter rules) to hold a recall election against Nutter.