by Lauren Daley
Companies who have large contracts with the city of Pittsburgh will have to extend domestic-partner benefits to same-sex and opposite-sex employees under legislation introduced by City Councilor Bruce Kraus.
The requirement only applies to contracts that meet or exceed $250,000, and only applies to employees who live within the city or are subject to the city wage tax.
"One of the reasons for this piece is to continue to show that Pittsburgh is a very open-minded and a very welcoming ... diverse city that welcomes the inclusions and the nurturing of the best and the brightest in our workforce," Kraus said at council's standing committee meeting this morning.
With so many other cities adopting similar legislation, Kraus added, "it shows that when you have these kinds of policies in place and have this more progressive mindset in terms of how you approach your workforce, you have a better chance of recruiting, retaining, maintaining and growing a much better workforce."
Brandon Forbes, Kraus's policy director, noted that cities in California, Minnesota and Wisconsin have similar policies. Philadelphia enacted its own policy in 2012, and Kraus said he followed similar provisions in his bill.
The city can waive the benefits requirement in certain cases, including: when it would result in loss of federal or state funds; violates a collective bargaining agreement; the contractor is a religious institution; or the contractor is a sole supplier of services or materials.
Employees seeking the benefits are required to meet the city's definition of a domestic partnership.
Kraus said he has been working on the bill for about nine months, and it was brought to his attention by members of the LGBT community and the advocacy group Delta Foundation that pointed out efforts in other cities.
"Pittsburgh has always been a city that has very much been a leader in these kinds of positions," Kraus said.