Philadelphia, August 14, 2013 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that the City of Philadelphia will not appeal a Common Pleas Court order calling upon the City to implement part of a 2009 arbitration award for Local 22 of the International Association of Firefighters, clearing the way for an increase in health fund payments as well as a payment to the union’s retiree joint trust fund.
“While we do not think the ruling in this matter was a correct interpretation of the law, we have decided to move forward and implement it. This court order is in effect a split decision and only temporary in nature,” said Mayor Nutter. “We have concluded that it’s more important for the Commonwealth Court to focus on the merits of the City’s appeal than on this order, which has only temporary effect. Should the City prevail in its appeal, the City will recover the money paid to the health fund under this order.”
The terms of the order, signed by Common Pleas Judge Idee Fox, call for the City to increase the per member, per month health fund payment from slightly more than $1,200 per month to almost $1,620 per month. The judge also granted a retroactive lump sum payment of $6.2 million to the Health Fund and a $7.5 million contribution to the retiree joint trust fund. The 2009 award had called for what now totals about $31 million in retroactive health care payments.
The City’s Finance Department has estimated that the new health care costs for firefighters will add about $69 million to City spending over the next five years.
Among the issues to be decided in the City’s appeal to the Commonwealth Court are wages and various work rules. A new hybrid pension plan, which neither the City nor the union contested, has already been implemented. Oral argument before the Court is slated for September 11, 2013.