State Examiner: City Can’t Just Change DROP

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Two initial decisions by a state hearing examiner have found that the city of Philadelphia violated the law when it made changes to the Deferred Retirement Option Plan three years ago.

Overriding a veto by Mayor Nutter, City Council voted unanimously in 2011 to reduce the cost of the retirement program by tweaking its eligibility requirements and changing the way the interest rate is calculated on workers’ DROP accounts. Nutter vetoed the legislation only because he didn’t think it went far enough: He wanted to nix DROP altogether.

Read more »

Is Yuengling Banned From Wolf’s Inauguration?

Tom Wolf

He hasn’t been inaugurated yet, but incoming Gov. Tom Wolf already has a scandal on his hands.

State Rep. Mike Vereb on Thursday appeared on Dom Giordano’s radio show and said that Yuengling beer is not being served at Wolf’s inaugurral events this weekend — probably as political payback for the company’s support for “right-to-work” laws opposed by labor unions.

Read more »

Why John Dougherty Won’t Get to Pick Our Next Mayor

Demonstrators protest ahead of Mayor Nutter's budget address at City Hall in March 2013. AP photo/Matt Rourke

Demonstrators protest ahead of Mayor Nutter’s budget address at City Hall in March 2013. AP photo/Matt Rourke

A year ago, it looked like labor unions might just pick Philadelphia’s next mayor.

Led by influential electricians union chief John Dougherty, labor leaders across Philadelphia hatched a plan: They would coalesce around one and only one candidate in 2015. In other words, they wouldn’t make the same mistake they made in 2007.

Read more »

Labor Leader Asks Butkovitz to Reconsider Running for Mayor

Photo: Curtis Blessing

Photo: Curtis Blessing

The head of Philadelphia’s correctional officers union is urging City Controller Alan Butkovitz to reconsider his decision to not run for mayor this year.

Lorenzo North, president of Local 159, sent a letter to Butkovitz Wednesday, saying he should jump in the race because he has shown respect for Philadelphia’s unions and saved the city’s taxpayers “millions of dollars.” Local 159 is the biggest local in AFSCME District Council 33, the city’s blue-collar union.

Read more »

Ironworkers’ Dougherty Goes on Trial

Joseph Dougherty, former head of the Philadelphia chapter of the Ironworkers union, went on trial in federal court Monday on racketeering charges alleging the union used violence and intimidation to pressure non-union work projects into using union labor.

Dougherty is the only one of a dozen union members indicted last year to face trial on the charges; the other 11 pleaded guilty in recent weeks and months.

Newsworks reports on opening statements by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Livermore, who promised to provide wiretaps from up to 50 calls as part of the government’s case. He said Dougherty ruled the union with an “iron fist”:
Read more »

Meet the New Doc. Same as the Old Doc?

Photograph by Adam Jones

Photograph by Adam Jones

I’m searching for the good Johnny Doc, the one he wants me to find. The new one.

And here he is, in plain sight, on a cool, partly cloudy morning in early October, sitting quietly on a folding chair near the corner of 12th and Market streets in downtown Philadelphia.

Read more »

Bill Would Require “Labor Peace” at City-Subsidized Hotels

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Philadelphia’s hotel workers might decide to go on strike someday, but they won’t do it on the taxpayer dime if Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. has his way.

Goode last month introduced a bill (below) that requires hotels which receive support from City Hall — either by leasing public land to the project, or through financing assistance — to assure labor peace by having a collective bargaining agreement in place before the project receives approval. The agreement would have to include a “no strike” pledge on the part of the union representing the hotel’s workers.

Goode this week was careful to stress the bill wouldn’t affect hotels undertaken entirely as private projects.

“If there is no (city) financial interest, then it’s not a problem,” he said.

The bill comes at the end of a year in which the Pennsylvania Convention Center — subsidized by taxpayers — sought and got an agreement with most of the unions working at the center. That followed longtime complaints by the center’s leaders that unions were proving problematic in the task of luring and retaining big events to Philadelphia.

Read more »

Labor Leaders Contemplated Citywide Strike to Protest SRC

The School Reform Commission’s decision to unilaterally end its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers nearly caused a shutdown of the entire city, the Inquirer reports this morning — labor leaders briefly contemplated a “general strike” that would have featured members of all area unions walking off the job to protest the decision.

They held off for two reasons: PFT president Jerry Jordan wanted to pursue legal action first. And members wanted to wait the outcome of the November 4th gubernatorial election.

Read more »

Uniforms Shouldn’t Trigger SEPTA Strike

Septa regional rail train

When I heard last week the reason SEPTA might shut down due to strike this winter — leaving tens of thousands of commuters stuck in the February cold — I was positively Iversonian in my response.

“Uniforms? We talkin’ about uniforms?”

Er, well yes apparently.

SEPTA’s regional rail electrical workers accepted the terms of federal mediation. Engineers want to settle, but are balking at two provisions: The effective date of wage increases, and uniform requirements.

SEPTA engineers want simply to wear a vest. “We feel a shirt and additional outerwear would be appropriate,” SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams told the paper.

That doesn’t sound like an excessive demand — and in reality, it’s not — but it turns out there’s a lot more to this battle than meets the eye. It’s been going on for years.

Read more »

« Older Posts