WITH THE UNIONS: Despite Win, Firefighters Still Seek Charter Change

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Police Officer Bonnie Liholtz, left, and Tina Kirtin got Firefighter Friends Award from Local 22 President Joe Schulle for tireless work raising funds for three firefighters who lost their lives earlier this year. They were congratulated by State Sen. Tina Tartaglione and State Rep. Brendan Boyle.

Police Officer Bonnie Liholtz, left, and Tina Kirtin got Firefighter Friends Award from Local 22 President Joe Schulle for tireless work raising funds for three firefighters who lost their lives earlier this year. They were congratulated by State Sen. Tina Tartaglione and State Rep. Brendan Boyle.

After Mayor Michael Nutter’s Administration announced last Friday it was dropping its appeal of Fire Fighters & Paramedics Union Local 22’s contract award by binding arbitration, Local 22 President Joe Schulle issued the following statement:

“The members of Local 22 thank the Nutter Administration for dropping its long-running legal challenges to our 2009 arbitration award. This day has been a long time coming. We are grateful the appeals have been withdrawn and our members will now receive the fair wages and benefits they have deserved and earned.

“Today’s decision by the City in no way alters our plans to place a Home Rule Charter Change question on either the fall or spring 2014 ballot. The Charter Change is about bringing fairness and balance to the arbitration process and there are no guarantees that this Mayor or future Mayors will not attempt to unjustifiably challenge our future arbitration awards.

“We look forward to continuing to honor our oath to protect the citizens of Philadelphia and ask they continue to keep us in their prayers.”

STACK: FUTURE CONTRACT DISPUTES MUST BE TAMED
Pleased that Mayor Michael Nutter has finally dropped his appeal of a court decision ordering Philadelphia to pay its firefighters and medics $160 million in arbitration, State Sen. Mike Stack (D-Northeast) said changes must happen to prevent future contract disputes with the department.

Nutter dropped his petition last week.

Stack has been pushing the Mayor to drop his opposition to the arbitration award for more than a year. He also authored a letter with many members of the Philadelphia Senate Delegation urging the Mayor to drop his opposition to the arbitration award nine months ago.

“Every day our brave men and women run headlong into dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations to protect and save,” Stack said. “It took much too long for the Mayor to finally agree to move forward. We need to make sure changes in the City’s charter happen soon so this doesn’t happen again.”

The City Fire Dept. had been without a contract for three years.

CITY WORKERS WAGE WAR BY RADIO
A 60-second spot airing on radio stations that began this week argues Mayor Michael Nutter continues to balance the City’s budget on the backs of children and working families. The spot is sponsored by the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, the national union of DC 33 and DC 47, which represent 17,000 women and men in Philadelphia who go to work every day to build a Better Philadelphia for All.

The spot follows a television ad released last week by the American Federation of Teachers, which argued the Mayor’s policies have hurt public education in Philadelphia.

Under Nutter, the number of city workers living in poverty has doubled,” said DC 33 President Pete Matthews. “This is shameful and never in the history of Philadelphia have children and workers been so disrespected.”

“Mayor Nutter’s failed policies have cut vital services to the residents of this city who use them,” charged DC 47 President Cathy Scott. “Because of his failures, library doors often remain locked and fewer people work in our recreation centers.”

City workers in Philadelphia have gone five years without contracts or wage increases and have suffered increases to their health-care costs. The Mayor has gone to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to impose contracts with cuts to services, wage reductions and less retirement security.

The radio ad closes with a call for the residents of Philadelphia to go to www.abetterphilly.org to sign a petition to call on the Mayor to stop balancing the budget on the backs of children and workers.

TEACHERS and others got a whiff Gov. Tom Corbett was at his local office in the Bellevue. They gathered outside with speakers and blasted and rattled windows, holding Governor responsible for failing to fund Phila. schools adequately. Photo by Joe Stivala

TEACHERS and others got a whiff Gov. Tom Corbett was at his local office in the Bellevue. They gathered outside with speakers and blasted and rattled windows, holding Governor responsible for failing to fund Phila. schools adequately. Photo by Joe Stivala


TEACHERS’ LEADER FRETS AS SCHOOL YEAR BEGINS
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan released the following statement as schools opened on Monday, Sep. 9.

“PFT contract negotiations started a little later today, so I took the opportunity to visit Philadelphia schools on the first day of classes. While I can’t say I was surprised by what I saw and heard, I was extremely concerned, nonetheless.

“While visiting Powell ES, I learned the students there only had access to one itinerant counselor, who also handles caseloads from six other schools. Academy at Palumbo only has one counselor for 800 students. At Franklin Learning Center, class sizes are stretched beyond the maximum, and some students who signed up for the Health Related Technology program were moved to another course of study due to a lack of teachers.

“As workloads increase for students and employees, the lack of staff will become an increasing problem. In the long term, we simply cannot run schools without nurses, secretaries, assistant principals, librarians, counselors or enough teachers to deliver quality instruction.

“It is time for our city to put an end to annual funding crises, budget deficits and program cuts. We need Harrisburg to reimplement a fair funding formula for public education that ensures our district will not have to suffer the kinds of cuts Gov. Corbett has inflicted on our schoolchildren.”

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One Response to WITH THE UNIONS: Despite Win, Firefighters Still Seek Charter Change

  1. It does not look like the city will be in a position to end the annual funding crises that we have been facing. It is always a tax increase on the horizon for the underfunded school district.

    With the DC 33 and 47 contracts still pending, sooner or later another action will have to be taken to get these entities to settle with the city. Congratulations to the Firefighters on their much-delayed award. Congrats to Sen. Stack for keeping pressure on the Nutter administration to cease the appeal process. Good luck to the teachers in their contract negotiations.

    P.S. The 11th Ward event at Lou & Choo’s was fun.

    Michael E. Bell
    September 16, 2013 at 9:38 am

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