Contract impasse will cost some unionized Philadelphia city workers

Since 2009, the union representing Philadelphia’s blue-collar workers has been on the job without a contract.

That stalemate might soon cost union members.

Beginning in November for the first time ever, the Philadelphia employees of District Council 33 will have to pay $50 per paycheck for health care benefits.

The reason is the cost of their health plan is going up, but without a new contract, the amount paid by the city stays flat.

Will this pressure the union to settle for less?

Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald says not yet.

“I don’t believe there has been any substantial movement forward in the negotiations,” said McDonald.  “The Mayor continues to work on ways of getting all the parties together.”

Union president Pete Matthews declined to comment. But he wrote in a letter to members that their health and welfare fund is “basically bankrupt.”

He says the fund’s trustees voted this month to require members to start chipping in.

Matthews also wrote that the union will keep fighting for a contract with increased contributions from the city.

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