It took four years, but Mayor Michael Nutter's hope to stifle a firefighter-union pay out, burned out.
Yesterday the city announced it will not challenge a court ruling which orders a $69 million disbursement to replenish the health-care fund for members of Local 22 of the International Association of Firefighters. Nutter ordered the appeal of several rulings in the past, but has decided to call of his pursuit.
The news is a culmination of a battle between the union and the city, which has centered around what the city believes it can afford and what the union says its members have earned.
“While we do not think the ruling in this matter was a correct interpretation of the law, we have decided to move forward and implement it. This court order is in effect a split decision and only temporary in nature,” Nutter said in a statement. “We have concluded that it’s more important for the Commonwealth Court to focus on the merits of the City's appeal than on this order, which has only temporary effect. Should the City prevail in its appeal, the City will recover the money paid to the health fund under this order.”
Local 22 representatives could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
Common Pleas Judge Idee Fox last week green lighted a $7.5 million pay out to the union's retiree trust fund; a $6.2 million lump sum payment to the health fund; and to increase the per member, per month health fund payment from slightly more than $1,200 per month to almost $1,620 per month.
The city is still challenging pay raises for union workers. A Commonwealth Court judge will begin hearing arguments starting Sept. 11.