Letters Extra: Olive branch better than a club

A demonstrator with the a large mask of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and school supporters protest the possible closer of 29 Philadelphia public schools at City Hall on Tuesday, March 5, 2013. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

It’s not too difficult to see how we arrived at the point where hard-working city employees felt compelled to publicly demonstrate their outrage at Mayor Nutter’s recent budget address. (“Behind city’s union wars,” March 22). I believe a failure to communicate, coupled with a complete lack of fair employer-employee engagement on the part of the Nutter administration, and downright punitive actions against employees, boiled over.

Even though city unions didn’t endorse me — son of a city firefighter — during the 2011 primary over my vote support for repealing the DROP early-retirement program, I did not hold it against any of these unions or their hard-working members. I continued to oppose unwarranted and forced transfers of senior firefighters. I fought efforts to remove paramedics from firefighters’ Local 22, and supported the on-going filling of budgeted captain vacancies. And I vocally opposed the mayor’s delay in approving line-of-duty burial benefits for two police officers who gave their lives protecting our city.

The smooth and orderly functioning of our city government is too important to let petty politics, personal vendettas, and simmering animosities interfere. A respectful and productive relationship between an organized workforce and management is not only possible, it’s a necessity if we want to improve overall employee productivity. It takes effort, mutual respect and creativity to make that happen. Tough guy stances and phony bravado ring hollow, and only invite similar responses.

Jim Kenney, councilman at-large, Philadelphia