With Nutter in DC, unions turn up the heat

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.

Continue Reading