An Allegheny County councilman may investigate complaints from part-time jail guards that their hours are being unfairly cut.
Two guards, Brian Englert and Sergio Garcia Chavez, spoke at Tuesday's county council meeting against the upcoming cuts, which will reduce the maximum amount a part-timer could work in the jail from 32 hours a week to 24.
They contend the cuts will shrink their paychecks precipitously, keep them without health insurance and force full-time officers to work more overtime.
"After they cut our hours, they're going to lose a lot of part-time officers," Mr. Garcia Chavez told council. "My main concern is financial situation of my family. Part-timers have no benefits. If anything happens to me, who is going to take care of my family?"
Councilman James Ellenbogen, chairman of the public safety committee, said he almost fell out of his chair when he heard the jail's 60-odd part-time correctional officers don't receive health insurance from the county.
He's mulling over calling a meeting to address the matter.
"It is something that I do have my eye on, and I am interested in getting some idea of what is going on down there," he said.
County spokeswoman Amie Downs said the part-time hour cuts will take effect Dec. 1 and are part of the ongoing reorganization taking place under new warden Orlando Harper.
Mr. Harper, she said, has a mandate from county leadership to make the changes he deems necessary.
"He has been given a great deal of discretion in regards to changing or enacting policies, reviewing personnel, assigning staff and making other changes that he believes appropriate in operating the Allegheny County Jail," she said.
Manpower lost through the cuts will be made up by shift changes, additional part-time hires and using full-time officers more heavily, Ms. Downs said.
Andrew McGill: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1497.