Time To Strike? 'Quite Possibly' City Union Leader Says - FOX 35 News Orlando

Time To Strike? 'Quite Possibly' City Union Leader Says

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It certainly is a hostile time between the mayor and the city's union workers, who have been working without a contract for nearly five years!

Mayor Michael Nutter was shouted down from the podium last week as he attempted to deliver his budget address to city council.

We should all care about this battle. AFSCME District Council 33 has 10,000 members. When you include all of the families that could be 10,0000 people, some of whom you see every day, such as crossing guards, trash haulers and water department crews.

Earlier this week, we talked to the mayor, who said: "The unions have said, specifically DC 33, we don't want to talk about anything other than give us more money in raises, give us more money for our health and welfare, and we don't want to talk about anything else. That's not negotiating – at all. And what they've said is no to everything else. So, you know, I'm not going to get into a back-and-forth. That's just a fact. That's what it is. That's what's been going on. We're trying to get a resolution, and they're just trying to maintain the status quo."

Joining "Good Day" on Thursday morning was DC 33 President Pete Matthews, who reacted to Nutter's remarks by saying, "That's absolutely not true."

"We've been negotiating for the past five years," Matthews said. "We just sent in proposals last week that were rejected. So, that's not true. The problem with the mayor is he wants to dictate terms. We have moved so much in the past five years."

As to claims that the city doesn't have money to pay the employees, Matthews also said that isn't true. He said Nutter told them he couldn't pass a budget the first year, and he has passed four since then with the unions' help.

"There is money," Matthews said. "Mayors have ways of hiding money. The money is there."

Although the city says there's an offer on the table with 2.5-percent increases if it's accepted within 30 days, Matthews says that when you look at all of the details and what the mayor wants in concessions, it comes to a "negative increase."

"He's not talking the truth," Matthews said of Nutter. "He's not dealing with the facts. And every time he comes on TV or news, he spins. So, it's not true, and if you look at all of the facts, we can show you the facts."

If the money's there, why would the unions be getting stiffed for five years?

Matthews' answer: "The mayor wants a legacy, and his legacy is breaking the unions. He went to the Supreme Court and he did something that I couldn't even do – he unified all the unions with that. As I've said before, he doesn't negotiate. He wants to dictate his terms. It's his way or no way. It's like Councilwoman Blackwell says, he has so much of a disconnect with the community and labor, he doesn't understand what's really going on."

Is it time to strike? "Quite possibly," Matthews answered. "Let's see what happens in the Supreme Court case."

As for whether the unions' tone, including portrayals of Nutter as "Bozo the Clown" and screaming at people, and whether the public will still back them, Matthews said he has respect for city council, its president and even the mayor's office.

"But we have no respect for the mayor," Matthews said, adding that the unions want to sit down and negotiate the contract fairly.

"Let me say this: Is the trash being picked up? Are those main breaks being taken care of? Are the correctional officers working? Are the crossing guards – we're out here through five years. We haven't done what the mayor wants – the mayor wants a strike, there's no doubt about it. And quite possibly, he's going to get that," Matthews said. "The public should watch and see how we've been out here and how we've tried to work with the mayor."

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