Four sets of contracts for Philadelphia's unionized workers will expire at midnight on Tuesday. About 10,000 “non-uniformed" workers are represented under those contracts. The unions don't see eye-to-eye with the city on controversial contract proposals that would primarily affect health and retirement benefits.
So is a strike in the near future? Not for now. Union leaders say they’re still at the bargaining table and there has not even been a strike-authorization vote. Contracts for police and firefighters, who by law cannot strike, will be decided in arbitration.
The District Council 33 (blue collar) and District Council 47 (white collar) unions don’t agree with Mayor Michael Nutter’s plan to restructure the pension plan for all new city workers. The unions says the proposals would reduce jobs and health benefits.
Philadelphia’s pension fund currently has less than half of the money needed to meet obligations for past and current workers according to a study released by The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative Monday.
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Other controversial proposals by the city include freezing wages for the next four years, eliminating four paid holidays for workers, and temporary layoffs.
Mayor Michael Nutter counters the budget argument, saying the plan will save more than $500 million over a period of 30 years and that the city needs to adjust employee costs to handle a $1.4 billion, five-year budget shortfall.
For now both sides will keep the lines of communication open, but the city says it has a plan if an agreement can’t be made and workers strike. What that means for city residents is that your trash pick-up is safe for another day.