Thursday, January 29, 2015

Nutter gives up appeal of firefighters arbitration award

After an unprecedented four-year legal battle with the city's firefighters union, Mayor Nutter has raised the white flag.

Nutter gives up appeal of firefighters arbitration award

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter walks to the podium during a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, at City Hall in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter walks to the podium during a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, at City Hall in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

After an unprecedented four-year legal battle with the city's firefighters union, Mayor Nutter has raised the white flag.

His administration on Friday withdrew his appeal of an arbitration award that the city had long contended it could not afford. 

"The city's financial condition has improved," Nutter said. "We can now pay the cost of this award."

The city will now pay a lumpsum of $47 million in retroactive wage increases as well as $28 million in contributions to union healthcare and benefit funds. It has already agreed to increase its monthly contributions to firefighters healthcare plans from $1,270 per employee to $1,620 per employee.

Despite the increased costs, the city anticipates having positive, albeit diminished, fund balances for the next five years, thanks to improved tax revenues. Finance Director Rob Dubow said that fact would cripple the administration's position in court, because the city would be arguing it couldn't afford the award despite showing more than enough money for it in projected fund balances.

The arbitration award covered July 2009 to July 2013. The two sides are currently negotiating the current arbitration period. 

Nutter's decision comes two months after the union ousted its president, consummate Nutter antagonist Bill Gault. They replaced him with Battalion Chief Joe Schulle, who ran on a platform that he could hit the reset button on the union's poisonous relationship with the administration.

Schulle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

About this blog
William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to benderw@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to gambacd@phillynews.com
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