For more than a year and a half, the city of Philadelphia’s civilian employees have been working without union contracts. And the fine print in Mayor Michael Nutter’s budget proposals doesn’t appear to make a deal any more likely.
Nutter’s financial plan assumes no union wage increases for the next five years, and health-insurance cost hikes averaging less than 4 percent a year.
It’s not unusual for city budgets to make no provision for wage hikes, since that would probably be seen as an opening offer in contract negotiations.
City finance director Rob Dubow said any union wage hikes will have to be funded by other savings in the contracts negotiated. But Pete Matthews, president of AFSCME District Council 33, the city’s blue collar union, said he won’t give anything back.
Matthews noted that city workers have been doing their jobs without a contract and that his union has never threatened a strike. He also wants some credit for helping Nutter get his sales tax hike and pension relief through the state Legislature in 2009.
“We helped him, we didn’t stand in his way, we didn’t block him,” Matthews said. “And then here’s another thing–we’ve been out here. During this whole administration, we have not gotten a dime–health care or wages, we haven’t gotten anything in that period of time.”
Matthews’ union members did get a $1,100 bonus in Nutter’s first year.
Dubow said he wants Matthews’ union to match costs savings achieved in police health benefits. Matthews said his union health plan has already done that.