Mayor Nutter today had some strong words for the city's unionized workers, as contracts are set to expire at the end of June.
"Every citizen in Philadelphia understands that all of us – including public employees – will have to make some amount of sacrifice in the current economic environment," Nutter said. "It is certainly unreasonable for anyone to think that public employees would somehow not have to make the same kind of sacrifice that citizens are making every day in terms of service levels, in terms of higher fees, in terms of a proposed increase in taxes."
Contracts for the city's four municipal unions expire on June 30. The city has said they need to reduce employee expenses to balance the budget. Their opening offers to blue collar union AFSCME District Council 33 and the city's white-collar union, District Council 47 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.
So far, the unions haven't budged. The city hasn't met with DC 33 or DC 47 in over a month. And last week, DC 33 started airing radio ads, calling for a fair contract. Both DC 33 and DC 47 have a rally scheduled for Thursday.
Contracts for the city's 10,000 uniformed workers - who cannot strike - are settled through arbitration. That process started for police last month and is scheduled for firefighters later this year.
UPDATE: This rhetoric is definitely heating up. We just spoke with DC 33 President Pete Matthews who said that Nutter is ignoring the concessions his union has already made, like agreeing to one-year contracts last year or working with the city as they eliminated jobs earlier this year. "I think it was ridiculous of him to make a statement like that," Matthews said.