Northeast Times

Firefighter chief: No mayoral recall

The lead­er of the city’s fire­fight­ers uni­on said his or­gan­iz­a­tion will not seek to have May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter “re­called” from of­fice after mem­bers loudly de­man­ded Nut­ter’s ouster dur­ing a Jan. 8 demon­stra­tion at the city’s new­est fire­house.

Off-duty fire­fight­ers and their sup­port­ers chanted “re­call” and de­man­ded the same on hand­made signs as Nut­ter, Fire Com­mis­sion­er Lloyd Ay­ers and oth­er city of­fi­cials ded­ic­ated the new En­gine 38 fire sta­tion at Key­stone Street and Magee Av­en­ue in Ta­cony.

In a prin­ted state­ment is­sued Jan. 10, Loc­al 22 pres­id­ent Bill Gault said, “After care­fully weigh­ing our real­ist­ic odds of pre­vail­ing in an up­hill and costly leg­al battle, Fire Fight­ers Loc­al 22 is drop­ping its planned re­call ef­fort of May­or Nut­ter. This de­cision should in no way be con­strued as a soften­ing of the fire fight­ers’ and para­med­ics’ dis­dain for this cal­lous may­or, who con­tin­ues to defy the law by deny­ing our mem­bers their bind­ing ar­bit­ra­tion award …”

Uni­on fire­fight­ers and Nut­ter have been at odds over the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­peated ap­peals of a con­tract awar­ded to uni­on mem­bers through ar­bit­ra­tion in 2009. Two ar­bit­rat­ors and a Com­mon Pleas Court judge have all up­held the con­tract award, but the ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to chal­lenge it, claim­ing the city can­not af­ford its terms.

Loc­al 22 mem­bers are work­ing without a con­tract un­der the terms of a former labor agree­ment. The cur­rent con­tract, which has not been im­ple­men­ted, is due to ex­pire on June 30.

Reached by tele­phone, Gault told the North­east Times that the “re­call” chants and signs at the demon­stra­tion were more of a “sym­bol­ic state­ment” than a plan of ac­tion. The uni­on lead­er said that dur­ing the ten­ure of May­or Frank Rizzo, cit­izens ini­ti­ated a “re­call” cam­paign, but the courts de­railed the ef­fort. Gault noted that Nut­ter would likely com­plete his second and last may­or­al term be­fore any re­call ef­fort might play out in the courts. Nut­ter is one year in­to his second four-year may­or­al term.

“Ba­sic­ally, we wanted to dis­rupt his photo op,” said Gault, who re­cently began ne­go­ti­ations on a new Loc­al 22 con­tract by e-mail­ing the uni­on’s terms to the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The uni­on doesn’t plan to sit at a ne­go­ti­at­ing table un­til the ad­min­is­tra­tion hon­ors the cur­rent con­tract, he said.

“Hon­or the [ar­bit­ra­tion] award, that’s what it’s all about,” Gault said. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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