Hecklers saying they belonged to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union called Mayor Nutter “bozo” and “a joke” as he addressed the city’s new plan to battle poverty at the Free Library of Philadelphia on Thursday morning.
“You don’t care about poverty, you care about the 1 percent,” one of two persistent hecklers yelled in the echoing lobby of the library. Another shouted, “Give city workers a contract now.”
As members of the audience of around 250 people shushed the demonstrators, Nutter never stopped his remarks. Neither did he address the hecklers, who left soon after the mayor stopped speaking.
AFSCME District Councils 33 and 47, which represent the city’s blue and white collar employees, have been working without a new contract since 2009, and union frustration with Nutter has been boiling over for several years.
Last year, he was heckled during his annual budget address. This year, protesters drowned out his budget speech to Council entirely, forcing him to give his remarks before administration staffers and reporters in the mayor’s reception room in City Hall.
Many of the protesters that day carried placards depicting Nutter as Bozo the Clown.
One of the major sticking points in negotiations, sources have said, is union reluctance to allow the administration to furlough workers.
The budget Council approved last month sets aside millions to settle contracts with the two unions, as well as with the firefighters. But DC 33 members, in particular, continue to simmer over Nutter’s attempt to impose a contract on them through the courts.
The case remains to be heard in Common Pleas Court after the state Supreme Court declined to make an immediate ruling on the administration’s argument.
After his talk Thursday, Nutter said there’s “nothing more I’d like to do” than to sign a contract.
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