Archive

Judges, lawyers debate pay rates for police working large events in Pittsburgh | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

Judges, lawyers debate pay rates for police working large events in Pittsburgh

Five Commonwealth Court judges quizzed attorneys at a hearing Wednesday about equitable pay for Pittsburgh police officers who provide security and traffic control services at large special events.

Bryan Campbell, an attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1, told the judges in a City-County Building courtroom that an arbitrator was within his authority to order the city to pay on-duty police officers the same time-and-a-half rate as off-duty officers when both work special events, such as Steelers games.

Campbell referenced a section of the police contract that states police officers engaged in secondary employment would receive the pay determined by an agreement between the city and outside employer.

“Our argument is these are police officers, when they’re over there, they’re engaged in secondary employment,” Campbell said afterward. “If you’re going to force us to work secondary employment, pay us that rate of pay.”

President Judge Dan Pellegrini questioned whether officers who respond to a fight at a bar where off-duty officers are working would be paid the higher rate. He said allowing secondary employment pay to drive on-duty pay rates is “like the tail wagging the dog.”

Judge P. Kevin Brobson said it seems both sets of officers are performing law enforcement functions. He questioned whether police leaders would let budgetary concerns influence decisions about sending officers to assist with traffic control.

“That seems to me to be interfering with the managerial prerogative of the police department,” Brobson said.

Two officers filed several grievances in 2013 regarding the wage disparity between on-duty and off-duty officers doing the same work at special events. Arbitrator Philip W. Parkinson sided with the union Sept. 30, 2013, saying “it would appear to be inequitable” for an on-duty officer to be paid less for helping off-duty officers at a large event.

The city appealed that ruling, and Common Pleas Judge Robert Colville in March reversed it, writing that the arbitrator exceeded his authority by basing his ruling on what “the arbitrator believes the collective bargaining agreement should require on-duty officers to be paid,” rather than what the contract states.

City attorney Wendy Kobee echoed that, telling judges the arbitration award attempted to “rewrite the contract” rather than interpret it.

Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.


TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.