Philadelphia, February 1, 2013 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter made the following statement regarding contract negotiations with District Council 33. Please check against delivery.
“About two weeks ago, on January 16, I announced that after almost four years of trying to reach a collective bargaining agreement with District Council 33, that we were deadlocked; that we had reached an impasse.
On that date, we presented as a City government our final offer. It was a very good offer – pay raises for public employees and pension reform for taxpayers and more.
Unfortunately, Union leaders rejected our final offer as they have rejected every other proposal that addressed furloughs, pensions and costs related to overtime calculations.
And yet, I am always hopeful. But I am also realistic as well.
That’s why I gave the Union leaders two weeks to reconsider their absolute refusal to help us achieve pension reform and work rule changes that we need in order to sign a contract that is fair to our hard working and dedicated public employees as well as fair to the hard working taxpayers who pay the costs of City government.
With the final deadline looming, there were meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, just a few days ago, and they were completely fruitless. They went nowhere on our key reform issues on pensions and work rules, which we have been consistently advocating for, pushing for and trying to attain from the start of our Administration.
In a document that the union leadership submitted yesterday, they said, and I quote from that document, “In the course of our negotiations, we have had discussions over the issues about which the city has taken the position it will not budge. The proposals in this document do not alter our present stance regarding those subjects, except to the extent they may be dealt with in these proposals.”
The shorter version of that is that we are not making any changes or what they call ‘concessions’ on the issues important to the City of Philadelphia. Union leaders, as I have mentioned call these issues concessions – pension reform and work rule changes – and they have consistently vowed, publicly and privately to make NO concessions. In short, we are no closer to agreement today than we were four years ago.
Well, here’s what I have to say about all of this: the deadlock has gone on long enough. Union leaders have held our public employees and taxpayers hostage to their “Just say No” campaign, and we can’t let this stranglehold continue. It’s not fair. It’s not right. We need to move forward, resolve these issues and get a fair contract signed.
We need to move forward as a City with reforms that are critical to our fiscal health and accountability and integrity.
Two weeks ago, many of us were going about working on these issues and we were asked what we were going to do once we’d reached impasse. We said, and I said, “Let’s give it two more weeks. Let’s see if common sense and fairness can prevail. Let’s give negotiations a chance.”
We’re done with that.
Today, I’m announcing that we firmly believe we should have the right on behalf of 1.5 million Philadelphians, thousands of hard-working, dedicated and committed taxpaying citizens to implement our final offer.
Now, clearly the Union leaders will disagree. And you’ll hear much from them, I’m sure, on that.
But here are the facts, rather than going ahead and implementing this final offer and having our hard-working City employees in a state of uncertainty about their compensation, benefits and work rules, we are going to ask the Courts to decide this matter.
This morning, we filed an action in the Court of Common Pleas, asking the Court for a declaration that we have the right to implement this contract. During the period of litigation, the City will maintain the status quo on all the issues that separate us.
As we did two weeks ago, we’ve handed out materials that explain the terms of our final offer, that compare the current terms with the impact of our proposed contract on the “average employee” and some case studies of how our proposal would affect a sampling of active, actual, real employees.
In addition, the final offer that we made to DC33, a detailed chronology of our meetings with the union and the documents we distributed today will all be placed later today on the City’s website so that Philadelphians can have a clear picture and understanding of what has transpired over the years.
Our final offer is fair and reasonable, provides a real increase in take home pay for city employees while enacting pension reform and changes in work rules that help us afford those raises and prepare for a more fiscally sound future.
The Final Offer provides a 2.5 percent wage increase 30 days after the agreement takes effect and an 2 percent increase on Jan. 1, 2014.
Employees will have their step and longevity increments restored prospectively, and the Union will receive $25 million in two payments to support their healthcare fund.
Taxpayers will see common sense reforms in terms of a new pension plan for new hires coupled with a modest increase in pension contribution from current employees, for a pension fund that is unfortunately only half funded contributions that will better ensure the fiscal integrity of the pension fund.
And taxpayers will benefit from new work rules related to overtime and the right to furlough employees, if necessary due to economic circumstances for the City, in lieu of layoffs which is one of the few options we have in managing our employee costs.
The City stands ready to implement this offer as soon as the court rules. It will benefit city employees, the taxpayers who pay the bills, our City and its great future. Of course, we are always prepared and ready to engage in real, serious, meaningful and results-oriented negotiations with the Union leadership at any time.
But the time for action is today and that is why we made the court filing.
Lastly, the last increase these employees received was in July 1, 2007. It is now February 1, 2013 – that is five years and seven months since their last raise. The best we can tell, that is the longest in modern history.
And what is the hold up? That new employees would go into a different pension plan, that current employees would pay a little more into a fund of which all of us are members, that they may have less cost to their health care based on the $25 million contribution over two years, that we would recalculate overtime, that we would have the right to furlough rather than only the ability to layoff our employees as we manage through these still tough economic times?
This is what the union leaders are holding our public employees hostage over. It is unconscionable. It truly is unfair to our employee or the taxpayers of this City for this circumstance to continue, seemingly, forever. So we are taking the action today, in an attempt to bring these matters to a proper conclusion.”