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Little Progress in Latest Contract Talks Between City and DC33

Contract talks resumed this morning between the city and AFSCME District Council 33, the union for blue-collar workers, after a break of more than a month. The contracts for the city's four municipal unions expire June 30.

But DC 33 President Pete Matthews said little had changed since their last meeting with the city.

"The city was asking for concessions," Matthews said after the two-hour session, adding that he is "absolutely not" making concessions.

Matthews said the city's offer remained much the same. The city's opening offers to the nonuniformed workers included a four-year wage freeze and major concessions in pension contributions and work rules, as well as a major restructuring of health-benefit plans.

Mayor Nutter has said such changes to employee contracts are necessary due to the city's dire fiscal situation. As part of his budget, which is dealing with a $1.4 billion five-year shortfall, Nutter eliminated money set aside for raises and is counting on getting $125 million in contract savings over the next five years.

Matthews said the unions are already co-operating with the city by supporting one of Nutter's key cost saving measures -- a plan to delay some payments into the city pension fund and extend the city's payment schedule into the fund.