Thousands of firefighters will march on City Hall Thursday

Mayor Nutter apparently didn't respond to an invitation to speak Monday to the International Association of Fire Fighters at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.  So on Thursday, the 3,500 union members in town for their annual convention will come to him.

Bill Gault, president of Local 22, says the conventioneers will march down Broad Street Thursday around lunch-time to City Hall, where they will protest Nutter's lack of action so far on a July 2 ruling by a binding arbitration panel that largely upheld terms of a 2010 ruling and giving them retroactive pay raises, more money for health care and protection from furloughs.

Nutter has until Aug. 2 to appeal or accept the terms of that ruling.  His spokesman, Mark McDonald, this morning said he had not heard about the firefighter march.  McDonald said the Nutter administration doesn't have a response yet on the arbitration ruling.

Jeff Zack, a spokesman for the IAFF in Washington D.C., confirmed Thursday's march.  "We're well aware of what's happening here," Zack said of the contract dispute.  "I imagine they'll be pretty loud."

Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak Wednesday at 1 p.m. to the convention.  The IAFF last month endorsed Biden and President Obama for re-election.  As we noted two weeks ago, the local dispute could cast a pall on Nutter's growing national reputation.

Local 22 members on Monday passed out fliers at two entrances to the convention, asking for support from their fellow union members.  The fliers said: "Please. We need your help. Philadelphia firefighters have been without a contract for three years, Mayor Nutter refuses to sign the legally arbitrated award. Please ask your delegates to demand that Mayor Nutter sign the award. Thank you and stay safe. Please stand with us!"

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