Saturday, August 29, 2015

With Nutter in DC, unions turn up the heat

Thousands of union members and labor supporters gathered on Independence Mall on Saturday morning to criticize the mayor's policies on everything from closing schools to furloughing the city's blue-collar workers.

With Nutter in DC, unions turn up the heat

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This post has been updated with comment from the Nutter administration.

While Mayor Nutter builds up his national stature in Washington this weekend, national union leaders have come to Philadelphia to bring down his image locally.

Thousands of union members and labor supporters gathered on Independence Mall on Saturday morning to criticize the mayor’s policies on everything from closing schools to furloughing the city’s blue-collar workers.

Speakers included Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The heads of every major public union in the city except the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, the only one that has signed a contract with the administration since 2009, also spoke at the event.

AFSCME, which in Philadelphia represents the city’s non-uniformed blue- and white-collar workers, has been protesting Nutter in Washington this week as well. He’s in the capitol to oversee the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which is president of, and attend President Obama’s inauguration Monday.

“We will not give him any peace. Wherever he goes, we will be there until you get a fair contract.” Saunders said. “We are sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Rev. Al Sharpton was scheduled to come, but organizers announced halfway through the event that he wouldn’t be able to make it because of traffic in New York City.

Many at the rally wore stickers reading, “Mayor 1% Nutter,” implying he pays attention to the needs of rich Philadelphians more than those of the working class.

Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald responded with a statement:

"He's the Mayor of the 100 percent of Philadelphians and he's dedicated to making sure that any contract he might sign has the basic reforms that taxpayers need in dealing [with] budget busting pension and healthcare costs while providing pay raises for city employees. Philadelphia can't afford anything less."

Nutter has said he wants contracts that are “fair to the taxpayers” and that the city needs pension reform, more work-rule flexibility and other savings to keep its finances under control.

Stalemate over those issues has prevented the AFSCME locals and the firefighters union from reaching agreements with Nutter.

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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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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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