Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Arbitrator Sides with Union in Police Pay Dispute with City On-Duty and Off-Duty Officers Must Be Paid Same Rate for Special Events

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Arbitrator Sides with Union in Police Pay Dispute with City On-Duty and Off-Duty Officers Must Be Paid Same Rate for Special Events

Article excerpt

An arbitrator ruled this week that on-duty Pittsburgh police officers who are sent to work at special events -- such as Steelers, Pirates and Penguins games -- must be paid at the same higher rate as off-duty officers hired by the venues.

The Sept. 30 decision, outlined in a letter obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, came after two officers filed more than a half-dozen grievances stating they felt the city violated the collective bargaining agreement when it sent on-duty officers to work alongside their off-duty counterparts, who are paid at a time- and-a-half rate billed to the companies hosting the events.

It's unclear how often the police bureau sends on-duty officers to work at such events, and police union officials have said in the past they worry the practice drains already strapped neighborhood stations of the manpower they need to properly respond to calls.

Also unclear is who would foot the bill, given the higher pay rate.

The city could choose to appeal the arbitrator's decision in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

Contacted through her spokeswoman Wednesday afternoon, acting police Chief Regina McDonald declined to comment "until she has had the opportunity to review the arbitration award and determine as to how it can be implemented."

City solicitor Daniel Regan said his office is reviewing the decision handed down by labor arbitrator Philip W. Parkinson and is attempting to determine how to proceed. "Obviously, we had a position that was different than the award," he said.

Representatives from the police union and the city met for an arbitration hearing Sept. 4 after Zone 2 Officers Robert Swartzwelder and David Lincoln filed grievances.

As part of his ruling, Mr. Parkinson, who declined comment, described one grievance from Officer Swartzwelder that he described as typical of the others. …

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