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Battle Between Nutter Administration And Firefighters' Union Heads To Court

By Tim Jimenez

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The battle between the Nutter administration and Local 22, the city's firefighter's union, over a new contract looks like it will be heading to state court.

"The administration gave notice of appeal to the Commonwealth Court on the arbitration involving an award to the firefighter's union," explained Mark McDonald, spokesman for the Nutter administration, which had filed the appeal Tuesday afternoon.

It was in late November, a Common Pleas judge sided with a three-member arbitration panel, which, in the summer, awarded the firefighter's union three percent raises over three years. The administration argued the panel did not take into account the city's ability to pay.

"The arbitration would require, more than $200 million in additional costs to the current five-year-plan," McDonald said. "As well as, in the current fiscal year, an additional $84 million. There's a front end aspect to this that is particularly difficult and is the reason that we're appealing the case."

Reaction from Bill Gault, head of Local 22, shortly after word of the appeal broke, was not surprising. "This is so irresponsible and wrong of this administration," he said.

Gault continues to argue the city can afford the deal and the arbitrators took that into account.

"It's a direct smack to the men and women who risk their lives daily for the city," Gault said. "We've won it twice in arbitration, once in court and now they want to appeal it again? This is just kicking the can down the road!"

The union represents more than 4,000 current and retired firefighters and paramedics. They have been without a contract since 2009.

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