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Fitzgerald vetoes minimum wage increase for county employees

Allegheny Co. Council approves raising minimum wage to $20 per hour for county employees
Allegheny Co. Council approves raising minimum wage to $20 per hour for county employees 02:44

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald vetoed a bill that would have increased wages for county workers over the next three years. 

Last week, council voted 10-to-4 on a bill that would have incrementally raised minimum wages for Allegheny County employees to $20 an hour by 2026.

Fitzgerald said the legislation violates the Home Rule Charter and attempts to usurp the authority of the executive branch.  

"If council believes that the Home Rule Charter's language giving legal authority to the chief executive and the county manager to set wage rates through the hiring process and collective bargaining should be changed, it cannot do so legislatively," Fitzgerald said in a news release. 

"Council instead must follow applicable law and propose a charter amendment to the voters of Allegheny County for consideration. This effort attempts to undermine the structure of the government that voters put in place, altering the structure, nature, and operations of the current form of home rule government."  

While Fitzgerald said he has constantly advocated for increasing minimum wage, he differs on the pay rate of $18 an hour for seasonal jobs like lifeguards because they're not full-time positions. 

Allegheny County Council President Patrick Catena issued a statement saying he looks forward to discussing and voting on a motion to override Fitzgerald's veto. 

Catena called it "regrettable" that Fitzgerald, who is term-limited and in his final term, "opted to hide behind a flawed reading of the Home Rule Charter."

"Rich Fitzgerald extolled the virtues of his idea to legislatively establish a minimum wage for County employees on the record at the Council's December 4, 2001 regular meeting. Now, as a lame duck Executive, that very same Rich Fitzgerald has flip-flopped on exactly this same issue," Catena's statement said. 

"In the process, he has vindictively opted to both insult and financially disadvantage every single County employee that he claims to care about, and did so all in the name of protecting turf that will no longer even arguably be his in less than six months." 

Allegheny County Council Member At-Large Bethany Hallam, who was the chief architect of the bill, had said she expected Fitzgerald to veto it. 

"That's why we worked so hard to secure a solid foundation of 10 votes, which is what we need to override the veto and I am confident that those votes will stick, and we'll be overriding it whenever he decides to put it forward," Hallam said last week.

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