Facts from the Act 47 Plan
Which personnel group has seen its ranks thinned the most under Act 47?
Since Act 47 gives the employer leverage over collective bargaining for new contracts (existing agreements cannot be touched) it is easy to see why public sector unions don’t like the law and, in the case of Pittsburgh, likely helped push the City to petition the state in 2007 to have distressed status lifted. Labor agreements cannot make the overall Plan divert from its stated goal, which is to right the distressed municipality.
The amended Plan shows that overall headcount has fallen 10% since 2004 from 3,657 employees to 3,294 employees. On a per 1,000 person basis that translates into a fall from 11 to 10 employees (based on 323k population in 2004 and 311k population in 2009). The City could still go lower to be in line with better performing cities.
The bargaining groups taking the biggest losses (whether by layoffs or attrition and not filling the positions) were (on a percentage basis) white collar supervisors (-32%), school crossing guards (-25%), and firefighters (-22%). Two categories-non-represented executive and management employees and recreation employees-actually saw their numbers increase during Act 47.
The upcoming months will be critical ones for labor negotiations as contracts for police, fire, blue-collar supervisors, white collar workers, school crossing guards and recreation employees expire at the year’s end. The Act 47 team has made it evident that the City can’t grant better benefits either to current employees or retirees and should not limit its ability to determine the best ways to provide services and active employees have to pay more towards health care. There could be a battle with the firefighters over eliminating overtime from pension benefit calculations and the possibility of new, less expensive pension plans. Contentious times ahead for sure.