Thursday, February 23, 2006

Government oversight screws workers? Shocking!

Unions seek end to Act 47 oversight of city
By Rich Lord
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Labor leaders launched a multipronged assault on state oversight of the city of Pittsburgh yesterday, asking City Council to call for its end, backing a state bill to curb its effects and attacking its key privatization initiative.

But council postponed for three weeks a vote on a union-backed bill asking to end oversight under state Act 47. Its sponsor, Councilwoman Twanda Carlisle, said she wanted to give Mayor Bob O'Connor "the benefit of the doubt" while he rewrites the 2006 budget.

Only the state secretary of community and economic development can end oversight, though city officials can request that action.

Mr. O'Connor has been lukewarm to ending oversight, which started in 2003 and gives the city a means of limiting union contracts.

Ms. Carlisle said her bill was "not just for one group of people, but to make the city whole," and pledged to work with the mayor to modify it.

International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1 President Joe King told council that the city no longer needs oversight, since it announced last week that it brought in $15 million more than it spent in 2005. Some officials have questioned that figure, but Mr. King said they have not presented an alternative number.

"My group, especially, has taken a tremendous amount, the bulk, of the hit," he said. The Fire Bureau budget has been cut from $60.4 million in 2004 to $43 million this year.

The firefighters' contract runs through 2009, but can be changed next year.

"We want the right to bargain with our employers on a level playing field," he said.


No comments: