The Chief
November 9, 2001

PBA Asks PERB To Name Panel For Arbitration

By William Van Auken

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association filed a petition with the state Public Employment Relations Board November 2 asking for the designation of an arbitration panel that would set the terms of a new contract for city Police Officers.

The appeal came after three mediation sessions and numerous telephone conferences organized by PERB-appointed mediator Alan Viani between city and union negotiators. The final session was held October 29th.

According to the union's petition, "Mediation was exhausted, but did not result in an agreement."

The petition asks the state labor relations board to provide a list of potential arbitrators from whom the city and the union can choose a neutral "public" member of a three-member arbitration panel.

The PBA's last contract expired July 31, 2000. After several negotiating sessions failed to narrow the gap between the city's offer of 10 percent in salary hikes over two years and the union's demand for a 39-percent "market adjustment" to cops wages, the PBA filed a declaration of impasse with PERB at the end of last year,

The city went to court seeking to strike down a state law passed in 1998 placing all police and fire contracts statewide under PERB's jurisdiction, instating that any arbitration should be conducted by the city's Office of Collective Bargaining. Two lower courts have rejected the city's case, and arguments are scheduled this month before the State Court of Appeals, which will render a final judgment on the matter.

"It's unfortunate that after such long negotiations and then mediation sessions, the city still doesn't seem to want to face its recruitment and retention problems and pay cops a decent wage," said PBA President Patrick J. Lynch after the union filed its petition at PERB.