But on Monday an arbitration panel issued a new award for the city's firefighters that largely upheld terms from a 2010 award that the administration had appealed on grounds that it was too costly. The award included retroactive raises, protection from furloughs and more money for health care. And the head of the arbitration panel wrote that the city could afford it.
The administration, whose appointed arbitrator said the award would cost an unanticipated $74 million in the current fiscal year, has not said if it will appeal. Finance Director Rob Dubow declined to comment on how the fire award would affect negotiations with the nonuniformed workers.
Matthews said that no talks were scheduled. The nonuniformed workers negotiate their contracts, unlike the police and fire unions, which reach contracts through arbitration because they cannot strike. The police contract runs through 2014.
Nutter wants the ability to furlough nonuniformed workers, as well as to make benefit changes that include putting new hires on a less-expensive retirement-savings plan. But the unions have held out against those proposals, and Nutter can't impose terms if they stay on the job.
"They never have money for wages or pensions, but there's always money for a tax break for someone or a development," said attorney Ralph Teti, whose firm represents the firefighters and DC47.
The administration has argued that by continuing to cover workers under the expired contract terms, it's saving money by not paying out raises or benefit increases. But Sam Katz, board chairman for the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, said that because the fire contract basically was upheld despite the city's financial complaints, it may not be prudent for the city to assume in its financial plans that there won't be raises for other workers. n
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