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Nutter Administration Hoping To Derail Court Fight With City's Blue-Collar Union

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Mayor Michael Nutter now is asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to take up the question of whether he can impose a new contract on the city's blue-collar workers' union.

Last week the mayor announced he was going to Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, seeking a judge's declaration that his administration is allowed to impose contract terms on District Council 33 (see related story).

Now he has asked the state's highest court to immediately take up the matter, since it would likely end up in there eventually.

"We anticipate that the case -- no matter what the result might be -- if it remained in Common Pleas Court, would be likely to be appealed all the way up to the (state) Supreme Court," says city solicitor Shelley Smith.

The union says Nutter does not the right to impose contract terms because of a 20-year-old ruling involving workers at the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

Smith contends the facts of that case are very different and do not apply here.

District Council 33 has been without a contract since July 1, 2009, and the two sides are mainly at odds over three matters: the mayor wants a two-tier pension system for new hires; he wants the right to furlough workers; and he wants an overhaul of overtime rules (see related story).

Nutter's last offer, revealed two weeks ago, also included a 2.5-percent pay raise from ratification until next January 1t, then a two-percent pay raise through next July.

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