City unions plan protest at mayor's summit

Posted: May 09, 2013

The same coalition of labor unions that shouted down Mayor Nutter during his budget message to City Council in March is organizing a two-day protest May 22 and 23, tied to a U.S. Conference of Mayors event in Center City.

"NO MORE Mayor 1% Nutter," says a flier advertising the protest, an afternoon rally May 22 outside the Westin Hotel at 17th and Chestnut Streets followed by a morning rally and march to City Hall the next day, when Council may be voting on a budget.

"The mayor represents himself one way nationally with the U.S. Conference of Mayors," said Cathy Scott, president of AFSCME District Council 47, "but a very different way when he is dealing with local city workers."

Nutter is president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a bipartisan national organization.

Scott said the protesters would ask Council to add money to the proposed budget to cover new labor costs.

Those include an arbitration award for firefighters, which the Nutter administration is appealing in Commonwealth Court, and new AFSCME contracts with nonuniformed employees, who have been working under an expired contract since mid-2009. Thus far, the unions have not specified an amount.

Nutter's budget proposal for the fiscal year starting July 1 includes $26 million in unallocated funds for "future labor obligations," but Scott said the figure "is far below what we believe is necessary."

The Conference of Mayors, headed by Nutter for the last year, is holding a Mayors Innovation Summit here to highlight cities' use of technology to improve services and government transparency.

David Burns, the organization's director of Internet strategy, said more than 100 mayors were likely to attend. The conference had been scheduled in Philadelphia, he said, because of Nutter's personal interest in open government. Nutter's term as president ends in June.

Neil Oxman of the Campaign Group, whose political advertising helped Nutter become mayor in 2007, said the union protests were unlikely to hurt Nutter with fellow mayors.

"We represent a lot of these guys, and they're all facing the same problems. They have no money," Oxman said. "They've all faced serious budget cuts, they've had to raise every tax you can think of, and they still have massive unfunded pension liabilities. . . . The unions want more, but there's no money, so you have to say no."

The unusual coalition of municipal unions with building trades, service workers, and others proved a formidable force when its members packed City Council chambers during Nutter's budget speech in March and drowned him out with whistles they had smuggled into the event.


Contact Bob Warner

at 215-854-5885 or warnerb@phillynews.com.

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