Kim Lyons, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
January 3, 2024
Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato on Wednesday announced the county would raise the minimum wage for hundreds of non-union county workers to $18 per hour. That rate will increase to at least $22 per hour by 2027.
The new policy is similar to a minimum wage hike that Allegheny County Council approved last June, which would have guaranteed all county workers at least $20 per hour by 2026. That legislation was vetoed by then-County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who argued that under the Home Rule Charter, changes to employee wages in Allegheny County were under the purview of the executive, not the council.
Council overrode his veto, and Fitzgerald filed a lawsuit. An Allegheny Common Pleas Court judge sided with Fitzgerald in December, ruling that “legal authority to set wages rests within the Executive Branch.”
Part-time county workers will also receive a pay bump, from the base pay of $12 per hour, to at least $15 per hour. And all county workers will start employment with three weeks of vacation annually, which will increase to four weeks after five years of service. After 10 years of service, employees will receive an additional day per year up to the maximum of five weeks vacation.
Innamorato also announced Wednesday that sick time and parental leave will be available to employees on their start date, putting an end to the previous waiting period policy. The county will also end a blanket policy of pre-employment drug testing, except where required by law or regulation, such as for county police.
The newly sworn in county executive said the county will review its salary bands and remove degree requirements that may act as a barrier too employment. That’s similar to a policy enacted at the state level by Gov. Josh Shapiro; in his first executive order after taking office last January, the governor removed the four-year degree requirement from roughly 65,000 positions, or 92%, of state government jobs.
Allegheny County also plans to explore additional employment benefits such as education credits and reimbursements.
“We want the county to be a place that an early career professional can find opportunity and know that they will be supported in their professional growth,” Innamorato said. “I want to remind people that the county is open for business and we’re hiring at all levels. I hope this announcement of higher wages, more vacation time, and policies that enforce a culture of workplace dignity and respect will inspire people to come take a look at what we have to offer.”
While the new policies apply to non-union workers under Innamorato’s purview, her office said county workers who are part of a union will be able to address higher wages and policy changes in their next collective bargaining agreements with the county.
Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.