By Mike Dunn

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City Council opened six weeks of hearings on Mayor Nutter’s new budget by focusing on the still-unsettled labor contract for the largest municipal workers union.

Several council members peppered aides to the mayor with questions that sounded critical of Nutter’s approach to talks with District Council 33, which have dragged on since 2009.

Council President Darrell Clarke asked about the deal just reached with the smaller DC47, which includes a so-called “favored nation” provision that 47 will get wages and pension benefits that match whatever 33 eventually gets.

“If you go in first, you get like a double-dip. You get what you negotiated for, and then if somebody else gets a better contract, you can actually get what that person got,” he said.

Chief of Staff Everett Gillison said the “favored nation” provision covers wages and benefits only, and was agreed to in order to get a deal done.

“We’re trying to get contracts,” Gillison said. “We’re trying to incentivize people to sit down, talk and to finally come to agreement.”

“So that’s why you gave them the ‘favored nation’ provision? Sign a deal, if it’s a better deal down the line, that’s what you can get?” Clarke asked.

“That was a request made at the negotiating table (by DC47) , and it was one of the things that we said yes to,” Gillison replied.

Council members also questioned why the mayor didn’t set aside more money in the budget for a settlement with D-C 33.

Aides to the mayor said the proposed budget includes funding that equals the mayor’s last offer to the union. They implied that adding money beyond that would undercut their stance in the talks. Budget hearings continue through the end of April.

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