The Chief
May 28, 2004

Mediator Named To Break Ice In PBA Talks

Lynch Looking For Deal Well Above DC 37 Terms

By Mark Daly

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has secured a state-appointed mediator to try to rejuvenate its stalled contract talks with the city.

The Public Employment Relations Board notified both sides May 14 that it had concluded their negotiations were at an impasse. The Union had petitioned the board in March to make the finding.

Next Step Arbitration

If the mediator appointed by PERB fails to move the two parties toward an agreement, the dispute will be reviewed by a three-member panel. The panel can issue a binding award.

Through a spokesman, PBA President Patrick J. Lynch blamed the impasse on the city’s hardball negotiating tactics.

“The city didn’t offer a dime’s worth of raise that wasn’t tied to a quarter’s worth of givebacks during the so-called negotiating sessions,” he said.

“We stand willing to continue negotiations,” replied a spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg. “However, we will work with a mediator to reach a settlement.”

The PBA has been fighting Mr. Bloomberg’s insistence that any raises in the city’s new contracts be funded by productivity measures. The union is seeking a raise well above the city bargaining pattern to bring its members’ salaries closer to those of cops in Long Island and Port Authority.

The starting salary at the NYPD is $36,878, and cops earn $57,793 after six years on the job, according to the PBA. The Port Authority’s veteran cops will earn nearly $78,000 this year under a recently approved contract, and police in Nassau County will see a maximum salary of $92,400 by 2006.

If mediation fails, the PBA will enter arbitration for its third contract in a row. Mr. Lynch said the process was “time consuming and costly for both sides” but described it as “the only chance New York City’s Police Officers have to win a fair contract. We want and deserve a fair day’s pay for a dangerous day’s work.

PERB’s mediator, Alan R. Viani, handled the PBA’s previous mediation sessions. He has 40 years of experience in collective bargaining, having previously served as deputy chairman for dispute settlements at the Office of Collective Bargaining, director of research and negotiations for District Council 37, and president of its Local 371.

No Deadline

While his mission is to cajole both sides into resuming talks, Mr. Viani can’t unilaterally declare the process hopeless and send the matter to arbitration, explained Richard A. Curreri, PERB’s Director of Conciliation.

If either side seeks to end mediation by filing a petition for arbitration, PERB will check with Mr. Viani to confirm the impasse before allowing the parties to choose a tripartite panel.

Mr. Viani, the PBA and the city aren’t under any deadline to attempt to reach a settlement. “There really are no hard-and-fast rules here,” Mr. Curreri said. “It’s a matter of what seems likely to move negotiations forward or achieve a resolution.”