About 200 Allegheny County employees lock in raises, 4-year-contract

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Attorneys in Allegheny County's district attorney and public defender offices have a new contract, providing them with raises over the next three years. The nearly 200 people covered by the agreement were informed of its approval Friday.

The arbitration award was approved on Oct. 12. Allegheny County dissented, but because the union and arbitrator agreed, it was approved. The contract is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2011, and is good through December 2014.

A spokesman for Allegheny County said officials would have no comment.

The agreement covers attorneys in both the county's prosecution and defense offices, as well as investigators with the DA's office, forensic pathologists, scientists in the county crime lab, crime scene analysts and members in the Office of Court Records.

The raises are 3 percent in the first two years and 3.25 percent in the last two years of the contract. The new contract also doubles the contribution the union members must pay for their health insurance from 1 percent of their salaries to 2 percent.

"We're happy it's over," said Assistant District Attorney Larry Sachs, who is the president of the bargaining unit, which is part of the United Steelworkers union. "Nobody's had a raise since 2010. Given the current state of the economy, we're happy with the results."

Since the last contract expired on Dec. 31, 2010, he said, employees have been frozen at their then-salary, and no one has been moved up along the pay scale.

Under the new contract, the starting salary for attorneys will be $39,372. Other changes include employees being able to carry over five vacation days to the next year and the ability to donate as many as 10 days to fellow employees who need them.

"There are people that have enough sick days that they can afford to give them for someone who has had some catastrophic event," Mr. Sachs said.

Under the new contract, individual salary inequities for assistant PD's must be addressed and adjusted within 60 days, and the arbitrator will retain jurisdiction over those issues.

In addition, the parties must also develop a mechanism to keep track of the number of cases assigned to full- and part- time public defenders to ensure an equitable caseload.

The contract also calls for the training of three assistant public defenders to become and remain death-penalty qualified to be able to defend clients for whom capital punishment is being sought.

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Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.


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