So what was Pete Matthews really thinking when Mayor Nutter during his March budget speech took aim at the city’s four municipal union leaders, saying, “It’s time for leaders to lead, not follow the screaming masses?”
For the mayor to stand up there and insult the union leaders as he did was ridiculous. I have not spoken to the mayor since,” said Matthews, who leads AFSCME District Council 33, the city’s largest union with 7,200 members.
That was the some of the red-hot rhetoric that spilled from Matthews’ lips this morning as he testified before City Council on next year’s budget proposal. Whatever working relationship Matthews and the mayor had last year seems to have disintegrated — and it was a messsage Matthews was keen on communicating as the union’s contract ticks toward a June 30 expiration date.
With the Council chamber, including both balconies, filled with howling DC 33 workers, Matthews recounted a phone call he received from Nutter that March day, informing him — just 20 minutes before he would reveal it publicly — that in a new pact he would seek salary freezes, reduced holidays, pension changes and lower city contributions to the union health plans.