Thursday, July 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Arbitrator reinstates 9 rec center employees canned by Nutter administration for double-dipping

A labor arbitrator has reinstated nine part-time rec center employees who were let go by Mayor Nutter’s administration for apparently violating rules against “double-dipping” in public employment.

Arbitrator reinstates 9 rec center employees canned by Nutter administration for double-dipping

A labor arbitrator has reinstated nine part-time rec center employees who were let go by Mayor Nutter’s administration for apparently violating rules against “double-dipping” in public employment. ( Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer, file)
A labor arbitrator has reinstated nine part-time rec center employees who were let go by Mayor Nutter’s administration for apparently violating rules against “double-dipping” in public employment. ( Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer, file)

A labor arbitrator has reinstated nine part-time rec center employees who were let go by Mayor Nutter’s administration for apparently violating rules against “double-dipping” in public employment.

An investigation by city Inspector General Amy Kurland found 13 rec center workers to be in violation of a Home Rule Charter provision that bars city employees from holding two governmental jobs.

Ten, including the nine who will be reinstated with back pay, also worked for the School District of Philadelphia. Two others worked for the US Postal Service, and another for the state Attorney General’s Office.

But Arbitrator Anthony Visco Jr. sided with arguments from the union, which pointed out the city was well aware of their jobs with the district when it hired them and even recruited some of them to the rec center positions specifically because of their experience as educators.

Visco did not, however, reinstate four other employees because of a technicality related to the timing of their terminations, according to Sam Spear, the lawyer who argued the case for District Council 33 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Spear said the overall issue was not whether the employees were in violation of the Charter provision, but whether it was being properly enforced.

“The employees every year told the city that, ‘We had those other jobs and we got approval,’ and now the administration decides to turn around and just change the rule,” Spear said.

City Solicitor Shelley Smith said the administration has not yet reviewed the decision, which came down late today.

With the arbitrator’s decision, the episode is doubly embarrassing for the administration because it led to a minor controversy over whether some of Nutter’s top aides were also in violation of the Charter provision.

J. Matthew Wolfe, the Republican nominee in last month’s City Council election, raised the issue by pointing out that some of the highest-paid city employees carry multiple titles.

For instance, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, whose salary is $261,375, is also a deputy mayor and can earn more than the Charter designates for the commissioner job because of his extra position.

Spear said he did not raise the issue before the arbitrator but considers it symptomatic of the problem.

“They should enforce the rules but do it on a consistent basis,” he said, “and not every 10 or 20 years, or just against the poor people rather than the favored.”

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