Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced late Tuesday that the city had appealed last week’s arbitration award allowing Pittsburgh police officers to live outside the city limits.
In his press release, Peduto noted the ruling took away one of his major tools to negotiate “for changes to management and disciplinary improvements that both residents and officers can be proud of. Changes are also necessary to increase diversity within the bureau to make it better reflect the makeup of Pittsburgh’s residents.”
“More than 80 percent of residents voted in favor of a residency referendum in November, and I agree that all city workers should be Pittsburgh residents and taxpayers. For more than a century, city workers have been required to live where they work, and state law and the arbitration process should not treat any one set of employees differently. Our workers make up the core of the city’s tax base and thus have a vested interest in making our neighborhoods, schools and government the best they can be.”
Bryan Campbell, the union’s attorney who last week called criticism of the award political posturing, could not be reached for comment. He is part of the defense team for the three Pittsburgh officers accused of beating Jordan Miles during an arrest in 2010.
Black Political Empowerment Project President Tim Stevens said he was meeting with Peduto yesterday on a number of issues related to the police department when he learned of the appeal.
“As you know B-PEP was on of the strongest advocates for the voter referendum that overwhelmingly supported a police residency requirement, so we’re extremely pleased,” he said. “It’s important because we don’t want officers to feel they have no stake in the community where they work.”
Mike Brenner, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1, said yesterday that the union was forced to take the matter to binding arbitration after the previous administration’s attorney walked out of negotiation meetings.
Pittsburgh has required employees to reside in the city since 1902. In 2012 the state legislature passed a law saying the city “may” require police to live in the city. That triggered a clause allowing the FOP to reopen its contract and negotiate the requirement.
On March 13, the three-member arbitration panel, comprised of Campbell, city attorney Joseph Quinn and neutral arbitrator John Skonier, ruled 2-1, with Quinn writing a dissent, that the union’s 842 rank-and-file members could reside up to 25 miles from the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh. That would include all of Allegheny County and parts of six surrounding counties.
More in next Wednesday’s Courier print edition.