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Firefighters Push To Get City Charter Change On November Ballot

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(Philadelphia firefighters' union supporters hold signs in the visitors' gallery of Philadelphia City Council.  Credit: Mike Dunn)

(Philadelphia firefighters’ union supporters hold signs in the visitors’ gallery of Philadelphia City Council. Credit: Mike Dunn)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia firefighters want to change the city charter, to require that city council approve appeals of labor contract arbitration awards. They hope to put the proposed change to voters, on the November ballot.

State law requires binding arbitration for public safety workers, but Philadelphia won an exception, in 1991, and is allowed to appeal. The Nutter administration has used the provision to forestall a new firefighters contract for more than three years, appealing — and losing — three times. Union president Joe Schulle, who took office this month, says it’s time for a new approach.

“This is the time to restore fairness and balance to city government by granting council the authority to effectively do its job.”

Councilman Denny O’Brien is all for it.

“This may be deemed a radical response, having a charter change, but the pendulum swings and I believe this is a proportionate response.”

O’Brien was one of more than a dozen elected officials and labor leaders who pledged support for the charter change effort.

The mayor’s spokesman gave a terse response: “The administration would not support this.”

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