Hundreds of union members protest stalemate in city negotiations
Demonstration closes off traffic at Center City hotel during event hosted by Nutter.
CHEERING ERUPTED from the demonstrators when 17th Street between Market and Chestnut in front of the Westin Philadelphia hotel was officially closed to provide them a forum.
Several hundred of them, with whistles and picket signs, brought their own heated emotions to the already warm afternoon yesterday to protest the deadlock in contract negotiations with the city.
Mayor Nutter, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, is hosting a "Mayors' Innovation Summit" this week at the Westin.
The protesters, fully aware of that, chanted, "No contract, no peace!" and held signs reading "Mayor Bozo" complete with a picture of Nutter sporting a red clown Afro and red lipstick.
Groups represented included District Council 33, District Council 47, and the International Association of Firefighters Local 22.
Nutter has asked the state Supreme Court for permission to impose contract terms unilaterally on blue-collar District Council 33, which has been working on the terms of an expired contract since 2009.
Union representatives lambasted Nutter for trying to impose the contract, rather than negotiate one with them.
District Council 33 president Pete Matthews got a big response from the protesters when he said: "He dictates, he doesn't negotiate."
Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said yesterday that the mayor "is prepared to sign a contract that is fair to city employees, but it must also be fair to city taxpayers."
The demonstrators said they would congregate in front of the hotel again at 8 a.m. today and would march to City Hall.