Judge overturns ruling affecting city officers’ pay

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An Allegheny County judge this week overturned an arbitration ruling that would have allowed on-duty Pittsburgh police officers to receive more money for working near the site of special events, such as football and hockey games and concerts.

If upheld, the ruling would have permitted the on-duty officers to receive the same rate of pay as off-duty officers who work at the events and are paid time-and-a-half billed to the companies hosting the events.

The issue had been the subject of tensions between members of the Pittsburgh police union and city administrators, who said they hoped to overhaul officer moonlighting following a federal investigation into the bureau.

An arbitrator ruled in favor of the police union in September. The city appealed the ruling and Common Pleas Judge Robert Colville ruled Tuesday in favor of the city, saying that the arbitrator based his ruling on “what the collective bargaining agreement should say as opposed to what it actually says.”

Officer Robert Swartzwelder of the police union’s labor management committee said Wednesday that he felt “this judge substituted his judgment for a fact finding arbitrator.”

“The city of Pittsburgh is now on the hook to fund private details with tax dollars saving the major sports venues hundreds of dollars and burdening the tax payers with that debt,” he said, adding that the city remains under Act 47.

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