The president of the police union told Channel 11 News Tuesday that he plans to file a grievance after learning that some officers are being forced to work traffic details at Beyoncé’s concert.
Pittsburgh officials said they have enough officers to staff Tuesday night’s concert at Heinz Field, but the union said the city went about it the wrong way.
The police union said 32 officers from different zones throughout the city will be forced to work Tuesday night on traffic details before and after the concert because not enough officers signed up for the voluntary off-duty detail known as secondary employment.
Bob Swartzwalder, the Fraternal Order of Police president, contended that forcing officers to work the concert us a violation of their contract.
“This is strictly an issue of secondary employment and the officers’ right to choose what type of secondary employment they engage in,” he said.
Sources told Target 11’s Rick Earle that some officers balked at volunteering because of what they called Beyoncé’s anti-police lyrics. However, Swartzwalder said the issue is strictly about staffing and the fact that there aren’t enough officers to work every detail.
Earlier this month, the city forced officers to work the Pittsburgh Marathon. The union insists that the city has options.
“The traffic management plan allows them to hire county police officers and state police although that's going to be tremendously more expensive,” Swartzwalder said.
The police union already filed an unfair labor practice over the marathon, and now they plan to file another for the Beyoncé concert.
“If they have a complaint, they can obviously file it, but we feel we are working within the rules of the collective bargaining agreement and will continue to do so,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said.
Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:
"Large public events have a significant impact on the surrounding communities with respect to traffic flow, congestion and potential quality of life disorder stemming from larger numbers of people visiting the area.
"From a Homeland security standpoint, such events require extra police protection from the potential for far more serious safety threats as well. Police have the responsibility to preserve the quality of life for the communities we police, as well as the safety and security of those coming here to visit.
"The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police remains fully committed to providing the highest quality of service to our residents and guests. We have taken great pains to ensure our staffing decisions are within the confines of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Any questions about contractual issues for staffing and scheduling will be fully vetted in the appropriate legal venues."
Gates at Heinz Field will open at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, with Beyoncé’s concert set to start at 7:30 p.m.