City Workers and Labor Unions Rally Against Mayor Nutter’s “Final Offer”

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Unions rally at Independence Mall to protest Mayor Michael Nutter. Photo by Kenneth Lipp.

Hundreds of Philadelphians, representing many of the area’s labor organizations, gathered in the Mall in front of the Constitution Center in Old City this morning, to voice their displeasure over what they consider to be Mayor Michael Nutter’s dictatorial stance in negotiating a contract with city workers’ union District Council 33. The rally opened with hymns sung by the Bright Hope Baptist Church choir from a stage flanked on either side with large portraits of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Last Wednesday, Mayor Nutter delivered to the union what he called his “final offer,” which offers no retro pay, and includes a 2.5% wage hike from the date of ratification through January 1, 2014, then a 2% wage hike from January 1, 2014 through July 1, 2014. The offer also included changes to the workers’ pension plans and allowed for unpaid furloughs, measures to which the union has remained vehemently opposed throughout negotiations. The union immediately rejected this offer, leading Nutter to declare talks with the union to be in a state of deadlock.

Speakers at the rally, which included local AFL-CIO president Pat Eiding and National Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, repeatedly invoked Dr. King’s legacy, calling for unity from the Philadelphia community and fairness and compassion from city officials.

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Philadelphia AFL-CIO president Pat Eiden addresses the crowd at the Constitution Center. Photo by Kenneth Lipp.

Conspicuously absent from the crowd of teachers, Water Works employees, laborers, and firefighters were any members of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police. The FOP had their contract terms awarded in an arbitration process accepted by the city without any objection.

Mr. Eiden responded to the mayor’s offer, which he characterized as “take these terms or else,” with the suggestion “It’s time for ‘or else.’

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AFSCME workers rally near the Constitution Center to protest Mayor Michael Nutter, who they call a Mayor “for the 1%.” Photo by Kenneth Lipp.

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About Kenneth Lipp

Kenneth is a writer and researcher. He’s from Alabama, and will not apologize for it. He moved to Pennsylvania in 2012, but has been in love with Philadelphia since a late-night stroll down Ben Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum in July of 2011 with the love of his life. He is interested in telling Philadelphia’s dynamic and absolutely unique stories with the zeal of a constantly enamored newcomer. Kenneth is also passionate about government transparency and protection of whistleblowers, most notably PFC Chelsea Manning. His research and reporting on law enforcement and surveillance have been featured in various publications, including Rolling Stone (Meet the Private Companies Helping Cops Spy on Protesters) and Popular Science (Boston Tested Crowd-Watching Software That Catalogues People's Skin Color). His training is in both genetics and history and he likes the joke about being a helicase and unzipping your “genes.” He’s driven to know, and thinks you can handle, the truth. Follow him on Twitter @kennethlipp.

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