By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A city judge has dealt a defeat to the Nutter Administration in its effort to block the last summer’s arbitration contract award to the firefighters.

The three-member arbitration panel in the summer had given firefighters three percent raises over three years and ruled that the mayor cannot furlough any of them.

The administration last month argued in court that the city can’t afford the pay raise and argued that the arbitration panel failed to give weight to the city’s ability to pay. The union countered that the arbitrators did take ability to pay into account, and the award resembles the earlier award to police that the mayor did not appeal.

Now, Common Pleas Judge Idee Fox has ruled in favor of the union, affirming the arbitration award. Her opinion explaining the decision is not yet available.

The head of the firefighter’s union, Bill Gault, was not available for comment. A spokesman for the mayor said the administration is not prepared to comment at this time.

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