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City Workers' Union Reports Some Signs Of Progress In Long-Stalled Contract Talks With Mayor

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Long-stalled contract talks between the Nutter Administration and the city's largest municipal workers union resumed today. The two sides met for about four hours, and they agreed to meet again next week.

These were the first face-to-face negotiations between the Administration and District Council 33, the 10,000 member blue collar city workers union, in about a year. By early evening, union chief Pete Matthews emerged sounding upbeat.

"We made some progress," Matthews said.

He would not elaborate, except to say there was some movement on a key sticking point, the Administration's desire to gain the contractual right to furlough workers -- something the union opposes.

"I can say this: there was some movement on that, by the city," Matthews said.

The city's chief negotiator, Shannon Farmer, said union moved a bit.

"The union has modified some of its proposals. It says it's going to be continuing to talk about its proposals, and I would expect that we're going to be back with them early next week," Farmer said.

The union and its white-collar counterpart District Council 47, have been without a contract since 2009. The talks have been hung up on three key sticking points: furloughs, the mayor's proposal for a two-tier pension system for new hires, and his desire to rewrite overtime rules.

"We're hopeful that there will be a resolution. We really can't assess until we see a full set of proposals from the union," said Farmer.

No date set yet for the next meeting of the two sides. The mayor delivers his budget address to City Council in two weeks. His budget speech last year was drowned out by angry union members, forcing Nutter to move his speech from council chambers to his own reception room.

City Workers' Union Contract Talks With Mayor
(credit: Mike Dunn/KYW)

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