5 City Workers Being Paid To Sit At Home

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The city pension plan is grossly underfunded and is in dire need of a cash infusion.

However, what you haven’t heard much about is how the city got into this mess.

One reason is that the city continues to pay workers a pension they shouldn’t be receiving.

If you’re hurt on the job and you can no longer work, the city rightly gives you what’s called a disability pension.

However, more than two years ago the city determined that five such workers have recovered from their injuries. Yet, they continue to be paid for sitting at home.

It’s been debated for months to lease or keep the parking garages.

What’s the best plan to bail out the pension fund?

There’s very little mention of what got us into this hole.

“There’s not a plan that’s been put on the table that deals with the problem and the problem is the cost size of the pension,” City Controller Michael Lamb said.

One reason may be because of workers getting a pension who shouldn’t be. Injured workers who retire early get more than those on a regular pension and more than two years ago, the city determined that five such workers were now healthy enough to return to work. However, none of them have returned to work.

KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan tried to contact those workers and managed to talk with two of them. They told him on the phone that their disabilities still prevent them from returning. But, even though a panel of three doctors said they’re now healthy, the city has yet to get them back to work.

Three of those had worked as 911 operators and left the job before the city merged its system with the county’s emergency operation.

The city said it’s had trouble finding them a position in the county system and that there are additional legal complications with seniority and other union rules.

It’s already been more than two years and the taxpayers continue to pay these workers for doing nothing.

“It’s clearly something that’s generating a cost to the pension fund that we can’t afford,” Lamb said.

The city pension fund is underfunded by hundreds of millions of dollars, so this is just a drop in the bucket.

However, Controller Lamb said even if a bailout goes through, the city must manage the pension with a tighter fist.

  • hc

    I wish there were more whistle blowing stories like this. This is reporting and it needs to come out. I for one am tired of these people with connections getting a free ride on my tax dollars. Get out and work you lazy scammers. Enough is enough. Not only should they lose their pension, they should give the money back they stole from the tax payers! What will be done? Probably nothing and all of use that are paying taxes will have them raised again because there are people with these connections that get away with all this stuff.

    Keep up the good reporting!

  • jack mahogoff

    Allegheny County always seems to be hiring 911 operators. Why can’t those 3 go to work there?

    • FixPGH

      Especially when in a years time two or more current operators have sent emergency crews to the wrong street (same name, different neighborhood) so there should be openings all over!

  • Daniel

    If anyone for a minute thinks that the pension for honest city employees is a free ride then they know nothing about the city pension fund. These people pay into the fund with every paycheck. Just like a 401K except you get no interest or return on your investment until you retire. If you work for 19 years and leave you get back exactly what you paid in…not one cent in interest. Yes you get a pension that has NO cost of living increase. Sure there are some who may not be deserving of the disability pension per se but for the most part people have worked and deserve to receive what they have been promised and have already paid for.

    • FixPGH

      Um, so does that mean I can just go on unemployment and live off of it as a way of life at 26 since I’ve paid into taxes since I was 14?

      They may pay into the fund but there is WAYYYY more going out than coming in, so obviously there is a problem or they wouldn’t be calling for a solution to fix the fund. Is it ok for every single person that has paid into a pension fund to just go off work and “deserve to receive?” The article says doctors have said they are healthy. So I’m sure they are fine. If they were 911 OPERATORS, what could they not be able to handle? Sitting down answering a phone? If you actually read the article – they went on disability, received payment while on it, and are now cleared for work but haven’t gone back. It’s not right.

  • give me a break

    Not all that surprising really. We have police officers off collecting compensation because they were, allergic to polyester and could not wear the uniform. While I understand what you are saying Daniel about people truly being off that deserve their money, really? These five employees have been cleared to come back to work and they sit at hope collecting because there is no where to put them? I’m sorry there has to be something they can do. It’s a cop out to say there is no where to put them .

  • pittgirl

    I would like to get paid to sit at home too! WTH!

  • Chippy55

    I have pointed out for the past decade that the city pension fund, in my opinion, has been grossly “misused” by the Democrats in power. Pittsburgh has been run by Democrats for almost 70 years, this problem did not crop up in the past year nor are 5 individuals even minutely responsible for its present condition. If you Google “10 Poorest Cities In America” you’ll find all Democratic Mayors, run into the ground by decades of Democratic rule, and coincidentally 7 of the cities have NFL teams, most with taxpayer funded stadiums, because the logic goes, “Championship teams bring money in when they win.” LBJ and his Democratically-controlled Congress took ALL of the money out of the Social Security Trust Fund (set up by FDR, who was interested in control of people) and placed it in the General Fund where the Democrats then spent all of it, and allowed it to get into the deficit it is running today. Jimmy Carter enacted legislation which allowed immigrants who had NEVER paid into it, to take money out of it, which contributes to its present deficit. Al Gore as VP, and President of the Senate, cast the tie breaking vote (50 Republicans Against, 50 Democrats FOR) to start taxing YOUR Social Security benefits. Democrats have ruined this Country, and have proven time and again that they don’t know how to run a city budget, witness the Cities underfunded pension at about 27%. I applaud the State of Pennsylvania in their efforts to take and oversee the remaining pension. Elections have consequences, as does living in Pittsburgh.

    • FixPGH

      Oh don’t even start that stuff – politicians are politicians, and republican leader would abuse it too, don’t start that sh!t. And the fact that you are spouting off all these “facts” from whatever biased website you pulled them from – leads me to believe you are just on the Republican bandwagon and just like to troll web forums blubbering away your “beliefs.” Get a life.

      • FixPGH

        I don’t doubt the money troubles part, it’s the fact that Chippy had to start rambling about Democrats. It’s everyone’s fault. Civilians, government, left, right, everyone. THAT’S the part I don’t like.


        FIX – What Chippy wrote is all true, its all over the web. Pensions are dead. As the economy worsens so will Pension situations. If you were not smart enough to save for retirement beyond a pension then i guess you have a tough road ahead. Pensions have become unfair to taxpayers, most of whom do not get pensions. Public sector pensions are heavily funded by TAXPAYER DOLLARS. What does the actual worker contribute… 7-8%, big deal… welcome to the real world.

  • richardw

    You get what you vote for, keep on electing dems to run Pittsburgh and you will turn it into the same type of cesspool that California is. Entitlements to all!!!!!!!

  • Ryan

    Sorry, I don’t see how this really matters. It sounds to me like a newsperson taking a story that they know will cause people to be angry and focus on it. 5 people’s salaries don’t make up the pension problem, is it silly that they’re still getting paid? Sure. But not so much so that this story should generate more ire than actual pension problem in the first place!

    Additionally, the argument that “I don’t get that so they shouldn’t get that” is stupid. If you don’t get a pension its because you didn’t go into a field where pensions are available. Your fault. Some people picked those jobs BECAUSE of the pension and so they should get it. If you want to stop them going forward for new hires then I’m all for it, but eliminating them for people who have begun and maintained careers is ridiculous.

    Btw, I’m a Financial Analyst, the only pension I’ll ever see is the IRA I fund myself.


      RYAN – I agree that if someone already has a pension then they should get it. however it needs to stop for new hires… the problem is that it would have needed to stop 15 years ago. as a Financial Analyst i would think you should understand that. Also, 5 people getting paid IS a problem. is it a small amount of money in the scheme of things, yes. however every dollar should count. If you were my financial Analyst you would be fired for a comment like that.

  • One small voice

    Dig deeper and I bet you will find the abuse runs deeper than 5 employees, how do you claim a job related disabled as a 911 operator, fall off your chair, obesity ??

  • Ryan

    Thats right Zoey, I’m a Financial Analyst not a time traveller. So how do you propose we go back and stop it 15 years ago?

    You can’t change the past, all you can do is complain about it which is exactly what this artical was written to incite. And thats exactly what you’re doing. I’m merely pointing out that perhaps an expose on the problems of pensions as a whole may have been a better use of everyone’s time.

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