By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Members of Philadelphia’s blue and white collar unions, working without a contract since 2009, held a candlelight vigil and rally near Mayor Nutter’s home Wednesday night.
Members of District Council 33 and 47, representing the blue and white collars respectively, say Mayor Nutter favors the 1 percent, not them.
“Every year, he has balanced the budget on the backs of the workers,” said Cathy Scott President of District Council 47.
The mayor says changes are needed for financial stability, but the hundreds of workers who attended this rally say he isn’t being fair with them. So they walked through the Mayor’s neighborhood, starting at Bryn Mawr and Woodbine Avenues, and they were not quiet about it.
“During the hurricane, we were out, we were out making sure the pumping station kept running, that water kept going. During the hurricane we were out there!” said one water department employee. “You don’t mind doing your work but you want to be paid fairly. You want to be treated fairly!”
“And he wants concessions?” asked a city mechanic. “There’s nothing for us to give back to (Mayor Nutter.)”
“Just like (Nutter) has the lights on in his house, I want the lights on to remain on in my house,” said Teresa, a school crossing guard. “The bills are going up and I have the same money. I want some doggone respect!”
When asked if the mayor was anti-union, Kevin, a mechanic from the Northeast, said he wasn’t, “He just seems to be anti-people!”
There was no sign of the mayor in his home at the time of the rally. Before it took place, Mark McDonald, the mayor’s spokesman, said the workers had every right to make their voices heard but said they needed to be more flexible.
“They certainly have not been willing to discuss the agenda that we have regarding pensions, healthcare and certain work rule changes,” McDonald said.
McDonald says the administration is ready to sit down with union leaders and negotiate at at any time. The police officer’s union is the only one of the four city unions to get a new contract during Nutter’s time in office. A deal was reached through binding arbitration in 2009. The administration has appealed an arbitration award for the city’s firefighters.