City Union turns the heat up on Nutter, and Nutter responds

    The city of Philadelphia’s largest municipal union, which has been without a contract since July of 2009, is running the TV ad above, which effectively accuses Mayor Michael Nutter of breaking his promise to give city workers a fair deal.

    District Council 33 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees says the ad will be running on Comcast cable systems in city plus some on Channel 17, including during this coming Saturday’s Phillies game. Radio stations include WDAS AM and FM, WURD, WRNB, WPPZ.

    The video of Nutter is from an address to the union in May, 2008.

    City officials and union leaders have met from time to time over the past two and a half years, and as recently as this week, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

    Mayor Nutter has said he’s committed to a fair contract with District Council 33 and its sister union, District Council 47, but wants a deal that embraces pension and health care reform, and includes productivity improvements to help fund a wage increase.

    The union ad claims sacrifices by municipal workers have saved the city over $400 million.

    UPDATE: When I contacted city hall about the ad, Nutter himself got on the phone to respond.

    “We’re still in the aftermath of the greatest recession since the great depression,” Nutter said. “We have a pension fund that’s only 50 percent funded. We’ve had to make significant reductions in services and we’ve had to raise taxes to maintain those services. And we haven’t laid off a single sanitation worker, or health care worker.”

    Nutter said he wants a contract, too, but he has to have some changes in pension and health care plans as well as productivity improvements to fund wage increases.

    He said he and his negotiators have been in regular contact with union leaders.

    “The challenge here is every time we have a conversation, they want to talk about what they don’t want to do, and not what needs to be done,” Nutter said.

    That’s generally consistent with the position of District Council 33 President Pete Matthews, who’s s said repeatedly he won’t agree to any “give-backs” in a new deal. He’s said union members have sacrificed enough.

    “I have my contract pen in my pocket each and every day,” Nutter said. “I am  more than willing to sign a contract that is fair to our public employees, and to the taxpayers who have to pay for that contract.”

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