Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb is using news of the filing of a suit by three Pittsburgh firefighters claiming they were denied overtime payments as an opportunity to criticize the Ravenstahl administration. The suit comes a year after the city paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to Pittsburgh Police officers in a similar suit.
“It really just comes down to the day-to-day operation of the city and the unfortunate and sloppy management that we have here right now,” said Lamb.
The suit filed Monday by a captain, battalion chief and deputy chief claims the city refuses to pay overtime when they work beyond their regular 53-hour weekly time cap. The lawsuit alleges the captains and chiefs became eligible for overtime under federal labor regulations in 2004. The firefighters claim the city has known since 2009 that captains and chiefs regularly work beyond their time cap.
“Once that contract is in place we should follow that contract… the fact that we find ourselves embroiled in these kind of fights that end up costing the taxpayers far more than they should is real problem for the city,” said Lamb.
Lamb pointed to what he called a “troublesome track record” of mismanaging employee contracts including issues with promotions, seniority and off-duty police work. “Our management here in the city tends to just ignore that agreement and do what they think they can.”
The mayor’s office called Lamb’s comments baseless political attacks.
“Its important to know that, that lawsuit was based on an error that occurred in the personnel department under a previous administration,” said mayoral spokesperson Joanna Doven.
Lamb said the suit could have been settled for less had the Ravenstahl administration not tried to fight the suit.
Doven sees this as just the start of a long campaign for the mayor’s office.
“Unfortunately we are going to see a lot of political press releases from the controller,” said Doven. “We’ll continue to state the facts and show the public that what we are doing is working here in Pittsburgh.”