State Supreme Court shoots down Nutter's request to fast-track DC33 case

Protesters, mainly from local labor unions, march around City Hall afrter their disruptions forced Mayor Nutter to cancel his budget address to City Council. Robert Deal of Local 403, District Council 33 is left. ( CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer )

It's been four years since the city's largest union had a contract - and it looks like that's not changing anytime soon.

The state Supreme Court on Friday shot down Mayor Nutter's request that it fast-track his case over whether he can impose a contract on District Council 33, which represents blue-collar city employees.

The vote was 5-1, with Republican Chief Justice Ron Castille dissenting. The case will now go to Common Please Court. 

Shannon Farmer, the city's lawyer for labor negotiations, said she was not surprised by the justices' decision.

"It will continue through the lower courts and were confident that ultimately the court will make a decision that is in the best interest of the employees and the taxpayers," Farmer said.

D.C. 33 President Pete Matthews said the decision is a sign that Nutter should give up his bid to resolve the issue in the courts.

"Mayor Nutter's attempt to overturn more than 40 years of collective-bargaining rights was turned down," Matthews said. "Return to the bargaining table and get a fair contract with city workers."

The majority did not write an opinion, but Castille, a former Philly district attorney, wrote one explaining his dissent.

"An effective four-year stalemate in contract negotiations between a major employees’ union and a municipality, turning in crucial part upon a plurality decision establishing a rule this Court has never passed upon, presents a legal issue of obvious importance," Castille wrote. "The City makes a colorable claim that this interpretation fosters a state of stalemate, which is ultimately disadvantageous to both sides in municipal labor negotiations."