PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Police union president said Mayor Bill Peduto believes police offices should be treated like second-class citizens following a contract award handed down by an arbitrator.
After more than a decade of small percentage raises, union leader Bob Swartzwelder said officers did their job and expected to be compensated now that the city is out from under state oversight.
But under the arbitrator’s contract award, Swartzwelder said police are being short-changed.
“Officers have been killed and maimed throughout this past 15-, 16-year period. And it’s obviously fallen on a blind eye to the mayor, to city council and other officials who make decisions in this city that they believe we should be the lowest paid in spite of officers being killed and maimed,” Swartzwelder said.
While firefighters won an eight percent increase under arbitration and city medics negotiated a 17 percent base salary increase last year, police will get a four percent retroactive increase and four percent each of the next three years.
Not only is it a smaller increase, but it will be phased in steps over the course of each year.
Swartzwelder: In my opinion, the mayor does not like his police officers and believes police officers should be treated like second-class citizens.
Andy Sheehan: Really? You think the mayor has a personal animus toward police?
Swartzwelder: I go by evidence, Andy, and the evidence clearly bears out when you don’t give police officers a fair and equitable wage, you don’t believe they deserve it.
Mayor Bill Peduto responded, saying:
“Not only does my own family have a background with policing, but there has never been a time when I have ever done something that would harm police officers and I never would.”
Peduto said he would have been willing to give police an even hirer pay increase through negotiation, but he said the union opted for arbitration and added additional demands, including pension, benefits and longevity, which limited the salary award.
“They asked for 26 different requests, and the arbitrator gave that to them. And what that meant was that each of them was watered down in order to get to the request of the FOP leadership,” he said.