Hundreds Blast Nutter In Rally Outside City Hall - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Hundreds Blast Nutter In Rally Outside City Hall

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Several hundred held up signs and chanted during a rally outside of Philadelphia City Hall Wednesday. Several hundred held up signs and chanted during a rally outside of Philadelphia City Hall Wednesday.
PHILADELPHIA -

Another day, another protest. But is anybody listening?

Several hundred unionized city workers rallied outside Philadelphia City Hall Wednesday, blasting the Nutter administration for its handling of their long overdue contracts. 

"The mayor's a liar!!" yelled Bill Gault, the head of the firefighters' union, as the crowd cheered.

"He's not a negotiator. He's not a leader. He's a dictator!" added Pete Matthews, president of the white collar municipal workers' union.

But as it all played out, you couldn't help but notice the crowds of regular folks passing by- barely interested.

Many of them seem supportive of the union cause, but only in the most vague, philosophical way.

"I feel bad for them, but a lot of people are unemployed, period," said one man who told FOX 29's Bruce Gordon that he lives and works in the city.

So far, Mayor Nutter does not appear to have been moved by the protests, and there are several reasons why:

Nutter won election-- and re-election-- with little or no support from city worker unions.

So he owes them no favors.

And he's term-limited so there's no chance for unions to impact his stay in office.

Nutter's fight with firefighters and blue- and white-collar workers, is mostly about benefits.

Analysts say for the mayor, that is a winning hand.

"The vast majority of voters in the city of Philadelphia have co-pays on their health insurance and have a 401k if they're lucky," says political analyst Larry Ceisler. "So it is very hard for the average citizen to relate to the demands of the municipal unions, because they don't have these types of benefits themselves."

Union leaders call that argument a race to the bottom.

"The tragedy in this country right now," says Pat Eiding, who heads the Philadelphia AFL-CIO, "is that while people are taking away pensions that were promised, there's a lot of people out there saying, 'gee, they have a pension. I don't have a pension- why should they have it?' Instead of saying, 'we should all have a pension. We should all have some health care.'"

A spokesman for Mayor Nutter says the unions are to blame for a stalemate now approaching five years.

Mark McDonald says the city workers have been unwilling to address benefit reforms that are vital to righting the city's financial ship.

The mayor goes before city council Thursday to present his 2013-2014 budget.

Expect a loud, rowdy crowd of union members, serenading the mayor with boos.

But don't expect a groundswell of tangible public support for labor's position.

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