Contract arbitration between the Pittsburgh police union and Mayor Bill Peduto’s administration will be conducted in public, the mayor announced Thursday.
The arbitration process is usually done behind closed doors, but both sides agreed to open the sessions to the media and general public.
This will be a first for Pittsburgh, said Bryan Campbell, a lawyer for the police union, and Kevin Acklin, Peduto’s chief of staff.
The hearings begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday on the sixth floor of the City-County Building.
“The (police union) wants the public to hear what the evidence is,” Campbell said. “They think the city can actually afford to give better raises. That’s why they’re opening this up to the media.”
The city has offered a 5 percent raise over four years to its 900 officers.
City officials say that’s all they can offer under the city’s fiscal recovery plan.
“The city is saying they’re a distressed community, and they don’t have the money to give the pay raises employees want,” Campbell said. “We’re saying they do have the money.”
The officers’ contract expired in December. The police union began negotiating with city officials in July but decided to go through binding arbitration after contract talks stalled in September.
“The collective bargaining went nowhere because the city’s not budging,” Campbell said.
Acklin said both sides have exchanged a number of proposals. Neither Campbell nor Acklin would say how much the police union is seeking.
Some state lawmakers have pushed for open public-sector union bargaining, an effort Peduto supports.
“We think that sunlighting this process is a good thing,” Acklin said.
In March, the Peduto administration successfully negotiated a contract with Pittsburgh firefighters without going to arbitration.
Tony Raap is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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