Union protesters in Philadelphia drown out Mayor Nutter's budget speech

Posted By Kristen Butler, UPI.com   |   March 14, 2013 at 2:34 PM   |   0 comments

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March 14 (UPI) -- Mayor Michael Nutter faced deafening protest at Philadelphia City Hall for his 2013 budget address Thursday. He began to read his speech anyway as angry municipal employees drowned him out with chants of "no contract, no peace."

Three of the city's four biggest unions have been working without contracts since 2009, and unrest boiled over at today's meeting, cut short when Nutter left chambers mid-speech. Council President Darrell L. Clarke tried to restore order before calling the recess, to no avail. Nutter then finished his budget address in the mayor's reception room on the second floor of City Hall.

Councilman Bill Green said he didn't think the meeting should have been recessed. "This is outrageous," he said. "Michael Nutter is the mayor of the city of Philadelphia. I don't care what you think of him, you have to give the office respect."

Former Mayor John Street attends every budget address with students from a class he teaches at Temple University. He stood in the chamber answering reporters' questions. Street, who used to regularly battle Nutter, said he wasn't surprised at the reaction and called the city's labor situation "untenable," according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Democratic mayor introduced the city's nearly $3.75 billion budget for the next fiscal year, a $99 million increase over last year. The budget will include a $15,000 tax exemption for homeowners and $30 million more in other property tax relief.

The City Council passed an Earned Paid Sick Leave bill for workers in Philadelphia Thursday, though not by enough votes to avoid a veto by the mayor.

Nutter said he had "the deepest respect" for the city's workers and wanted to reach multi-year contracts with all the unions. But he also maintained that contracts must include pension and work rule changes the unions revile.

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