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Biden cheers firefighters — but withholds support on arbitration award

Vice President Joe Biden came to Philadelphia Wednesday to speak to the International Association of Firefighters convention.

Biden told the gathering of more than 3,000 firefighters that if he didn’t have to go back to Washington, he would take them to Delaware for a beer. Then he got political, saying Republicans are against the firefighters … and the middle class in general.

“You are the people who have made us who we are, you are the people who have put us in a position to lead the world,” Biden said. “You have never ever, ever let the country down.”

One firefighter let down by the speech was Bill Gault, head of the Philadelphia Firefighters union. He was hoping Biden would pressure Mayor Michael Nutter to sign off on an arbitration award that would end his union’s contract dispute.

“All he’s got to be told is (to) honor our binding arbitration,” Gault said. “I’m disappointed, I’m very disappointed here, one sentence we can’t get.”

The firefighters plan a City Hall protest to send that message before the end of their convention.

The Nutter administration is deciding whether to appeal the arbitrator’s decision.

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