Philly unions hope for contract deals before new administration takes over

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is into his second term and still hasn’t been able to work out a contract with the city’s blue- and white-collar labor unions.

The impasse could drag on until the next mayor takes office.

Both sides in the dispute say they want to have a contract, but the stalemate has been going on for more than four years now.

The city’s white-collar workers don’t want to wait until there is a new mayor in place to cut a deal, says Cathy Scott, who heads up District Council 47. But she says there has been no movement because the administration isn’t willing to concede anything.

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“I wouldn’t characterize it as negotiations. I think this mayor really doesn’t understand the art of negotiations,” said Scott. “We have made numerous proposals to this administration … he is going to get everything that he came to the table with or he’s not going to have a contract.”

Political consultant Larry Ceisler says he believes Nutter is concerned about his legacy.

“Whether the mayor wants to run for another office after he leaves this job or if he wants to go to Washington, probably what happens with these contracts and how the city is doing fiscally is going to be an important part of his record,” Ceisler said.

As long as there is no new contract, unionized workers won’t be getting raises and the city’s health-care costs stay flat, so there is little pressure for Nutter to concede any ground.

Nutter has said repeatedly he wants to cut a deal with the unions but it has to be fair to the city and taxpayers. Part of his quest is to cut pension and health-care costs.

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