Why Domestic Partner Benefits for Allegheny County employees matter to all of us (redux)

A bit in the Tribune Review caught my eye last week. 

Councilman Bill Peduto said he is prepared to move forward next week with legislation that would merge the city and county's financial systems. He said the city “would find the money” if state money would not come through. Identical legislation is awaiting a vote from County Council.

The march toward consolidation is underway.  This means the delay in extending domestic partner benefits to County employees will impact City employees at some point.  It already has, when the City 911 Call Center was folded into the County system.  Those City employees LOST access to a benefit to save money for the rest of us.  That's just wrong, especially given how hard many people worked to help the City workforce make that progressive leap.

In this particular situation, no jobs will be impacted.  For now.  City employees who are connected to the financial system will remain City employees.  But that won't be true forever.  There will be more consolidating. 

I support consolidation efforts.  Members of City Council, including Bill Peduto, have stated they won't let City employees lose benefits even as they move ahead with the consolidations.  At some point, we'll hit a wall and progress will be halted because … the County won't move on this. 

This is a long term problem (consolidation) so I am hopeful our next County Chief Executive will right the ship to ensure all employees can insure their families.  I am hoping we'll see this question in the Steel City Stonewall and Gertrude Stein questionnaires. 

But let's not pretend this is a little issue that impacts a few folks who are off our radar.  Consolidation is about saving public monies which puts the onus on us to make sure employees are treated fairly.  Until the County provides domestic partner benefits, we tacitly support a two-tiered system of equality in the County workforce.  We have to carefully keep our eyes on the consolidation efforts and remind our City officials that anything involving actual jobs is not acceptable until the benefits are equal. 

With all the attention on labor in the past weeks, let's not forget our LGBT sisters and brothers right here at home who are denied health insurance for their families for political reasons. 


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