In second day of protest, Philly union workers seek City Council’s help on contract

    More than 100 Philadelphia labor union members and supporters came to City Council to ask for help getting a new contract with the city.


    But it’s not clear if council members can actually do something about it.

    On their second day of demonstrations, protesters gathered Thursday outside the Westin Hotel on 17th Street where Mayor Nutter was attending a meeting of mayors from around the country.

    Then they marched to Philadelphia City Council. The mostly union crowd called on council to intervene in their four-year quest for a contract deal.

    District Council 47 president Cathy Scott says 4,000 people have signed a petition calling on the mayor to negotiate a fair contract.

    “We’ve had the opportunity to talk to the neighborhood people that the mayor says he’s representing,” she said. “Nothing can be farther from the truth, because these citizens have signed petitions that they want fully funded city services.”

    City Councilman Bill Greenlee says there’s little he or his colleagues can do.

    “I’m not trying to pass the buck here, it’s the mayor’s decision,” he said. “They need to settle a contract with the mayor.”

    Agreeing with Greenlee that there is little the council can do, Councilman Jim Kenney urged union representatives to return to the bargaining table.

    “You’re going to have a unionized workforce in the city, for my lifetime anyway,” he said. “You have to find a way to deal respectfully and decently with your workers at the same time protecting taxpayer’s interests.”

    Candido Silua Jr., who works for the Philadelphia Parking Authority, said he’s frustrated, but believes there will be a contract settlement.

    “We have plenty of hope, there’s always hope, Silua said. “If people have a clear conscience and a clear heart, like City Ccouncil should, I think it will be fine.”

    The unions and the city negotiators have met sporadically, with no compromise at this time.

    Other members of council are split on whether they can be of help.

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