City Appeals Fire Arbitration Award

As expected, the city today filed an appeal of the arbitration award issued to fire fighters last month, on the grounds that it is too expensive.

The petition, filed today in the Court of Common Pleas, says the four-year contract adds more than $167 million in unanticipated costs -- a higher amount than the $146 million originally projected by the city. And the city's filing argues that the arbitration panel did not properly take into account the city's five year financial plan and ability to pay for the award.

Under the contract, the 2,200 members of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22, receive 9 percent raises, will shift to a new system of paying health-care bills and new hires will be given the option of a "hybrid" retirement plan that includes a 401(k). But the award did not give Mayor Nutter the ability to furlough fire fighters, which he has argued is crucial to manage costs.

In the arbitration award given to police last December, the city won the right to set up to 30 furlough days, although Nutter has yet to use that tool.

Local 22 President Bill Gault said the union would fight the appeal.

"It’s a fair award. We’ll live with it and so should the city. They didn’t appeal the (Fraternal Order of Police) award and it’s a shame they’re wasting the city’s money on this," Gault said.