Mayor Michael Nutter delivered his annual proposed budget addressed to a tough crowd this afternoon. The balconies of City Council were packed with workers from AFSCME’s District Council 33, the city’s largest union of municipal workers. DC33 has been locked in a battle with the administration over a contract for three years.
Nutter entered the chambers to boos, stomping and chants of “Keep your word!”. Similar outbursts regularly interrupted his speech, at times drowning him out.
During his address, Nutter identified employee health care and pension costs as one of the three major financial challenges facing the city – 68 percent of the budget goes toward worker salaries and benefits, he said, and the costs are growing at an unaffordable rate.
“I cannot sign a contract that does not deal with the long-term employee benefit challenges that threaten this city’s future,” he said. “We’re in this position now because the can has been kicked down the road too many times. Well, I’m not going to kick it any further.”
“So, bring me a contract that seriously addresses these long-term financial threats and I’ll take this pen and I’ll sign it right now,” he said as an overwhelming wave of boos prompted Council President Darrell Clarke to call the room to order.
“We don’t have faith in you Michael Nutter, we don’t have faith in you no more!” a man yelled as Nutter exited the room. “We got you in office and you stabbed us in the back after we got you in office. What about us? … You have $20 million, you can’t give us a contract? You have $50 million, you can’t give us a contract? We got you in office – you didn’t get yourself in office – we got you in office and you turned your back on us!”