by Pablo Ros and Gregory King | January 18, 2013
Washington, DC – Five hundred AFSCME activists, members of other labor unions and progressives met today to protest Mayor Michael Nutter’s policies of favoring the wealthiest 1 percent at the expense of the working middle class.
Showing solidarity with their sisters and brothers in Philadelphia, the crowd marched in front of the Capital Hilton hotel, where the Philadelphia mayor was chairing a meeting of the National Conference of Mayors. Holding signs that read “No More Mayor for the 1 Percent” and “Let’s Build a Better Philadelphia for ALL,” protesters called attention to Nutter’s repeated refusal to act in the best interest of all Philadelphia workers and citizens.
Since taking office, Nutter has gone out of his way to cut taxes for the wealthy while asking for more and more sacrifices from the city’s public workforce. He’s demanded that workers exchange their retirement security for a tiny wage increase, while at the same time demanding that they give the city more power to put them out of work for weeks on end without pay.
Opposition to Nutter’s 1 percent favoritism also will be broadcast loudly tomorrow at a rally in Philadelphia, where AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders will join other union members in calling on the mayor to stand with workers.
“Instead of standing up for workers, Mayor Nutter thinks nothing of waging class warfare against the hard-working men and women who provide vital services for the residents of the City of Brotherly Love,” Saunders said. “For more than four years, he has refused to negotiate a contract with the city’s public workers. He’s shut down schools and libraries, and has made it clear that he is willing to stand with the wealthy corporations and individuals in Philadelphia and give little or nothing to working families and their communities.”
Nutter’s most recent move: patting workers on the back with one hand, offering them a 2.5 percent wage increase, while picking their pockets with the other hand, taking thousands of dollars from workers with threatened cuts in overtime pay and forced furloughs.
Philadelphia’s public employees have pulled together to help their city find real solutions to the budget problems that have faced many American communities during these years following the Bush Recession. In Philadelphia, they already provided the city real savings. And they have gone four years without a pay increase – saving the city even more.
But Mayor Nutter won’t be satisfied until the city’s workers earn less and give up the retirement security they have worked for throughout their careers in public service. We must show our solidarity with our sisters and brothers; and Mayor Nutter’s policies for the 1 percent must be stopped.