As Nutter's 'final offer' deadline arrives, admin & D.C. 33 will negotiate

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (left) and Herman "Pete" Matthews (right), president of AFSCME District Council 33. (File photos)

The day has arrived.

But don't get too excited.

Mayor Nutter two weeks ago gave AFSCME's D.C. 33 a "final offer" to resolve the stalemate over replacing the union's contract that expired in 2009. He said his administration will take some unspecified action if the union, which represents blue-collar municipal workers, doesn't agree to his terms or come to the table in a serious way by today.

Negotiators from both sides met yesterday and agreed to meet again this afternoon, mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said. No word on whether they are close to a deal. D.C. 33 did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nutter has been vague about what he will do if there's no deal. Administration officials have said his options could include unilaterally enforcing his terms (a dicey maneuver that would likely put the city in an uphill legal battle), or some other court intervention, or nothing at all.

As of their last public statements, Nutter and D.C. 33 President Pete Matthews were miles apart. The mayor wants to dramatically alter municipal pensions and find savings in healthcare plans and work rules in exchange for marginal raises. Matthews said that the mayor's offer was not a net raise because of the addition of 15 possible furlough days and that he had no intention of making a single concession. 

Although the consecutive days of negotiation appear to be an encouraging sign that a deal could be struck, it's very possible that both sides could be putting on a show. 

D.C. 33 - if they are preparing for the possibility that Nutter imposes terms - needs to be able to prove that they are still negotiating to have the upper hand in court. And the mayor - who has been criticized before for not tackling the unions - has a public-relations interest in giving it the old college try, or at least appearing to do so.

But hey, let's see what happens. Not everyone has to be as pessimistic as a reporter.