Pittsburgh firefighters union sues to end Act 47 status

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The union representing the city's firefighters has sued to overturn the decision to keep the city under financial oversight, saying Gov. Tom Corbett overstepped his authority when he made the announcement.

The lawsuit, filed Friday by the International Association of Firefighters Local No. 1 in Commonwealth Court, claims it was not the governor's call to make. Instead, the suit says, it was the authority of Secretary C. Alan Walker, head of the Department of Community and Economic Development that administers Act 47. The suit also names Mayor Bill Peduto, the city of Pittsburgh, Mr. Walker and DCED.

In a news conference last month, the governor and Mr. Peduto announced that the city would stay in the program. The determination means the city will remain under the tutelage of two state-appointed coordinators and will have to formulate another recovery plan, a sort of blueprint guiding the city's financial decisions. It also means the city's public safety unions will have less leverage as they head to the negotiating table this year because any proposal they submit will have to be within the confines of a recovery plan.

The suit also claims that there was no written correspondence related to the decision to remain in Act 47. But DCED on Monday produced a letter sent to the mayor and city council along with a DCED order denying the city's petition to get out of Act 47, signed by Mr. Walker.

Union president Joe King said he's trying to get to the bottom of what transpired.

"The No. 1 priority of the mayor is transparency," he said. "We want to know what went on."

The suit asks for a judge to void the decision to keep the city under Act 47 and to remand it to Mr. Walker.

Spokesmen for both Mr. Peduto and DCED declined comment because it is a pending legal matter. The governor's office could not be reached for immediate comment.

Moriah Balingit: mbalingit@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published April 14, 2014 12:53 PM

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