The Chief
March 3, 2006

PBA's Criticism Of DEA Pact Spurs Uproar

Lieut., Capt. Unions Join in Questioning Lynch's Motives

By REUVEN BLAU

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch has issued literature in which he ripped the Detectives' Endowment Association's decision to agree to a four-year contract and the bargaining tactics of many of his police union colleagues.

Michael J. Palladino    
MICHAEL J. PALLADINO: Infuriated by PBA.  

The four-page addendum attached to the PBA's latest newsletter, titled "A Public Debate," has enraged the leaders of the unions representing Detectives, Lieutenants, and Captains. They contend that it is an indirect attempt by Mr. Lynch to torpedo the DEA's tentative contract agreement, which is two years longer than the PBA's most recent deal.

'Trying to Blow It Up'

"The PBA rhetoric is nothing but a veiled attempt to blow up the DEA contract that went out for a vote today," charged LBA President Anthony Garvey in a Feb. 22 phone interview.

DEA President Michael Palladino also blasted the letter, which was posted on the PBA's Web site in an extended form, calling it "a piece of trash."

Mr. Lynch denied that the newsletter - which was written after an earlier DEA deal was narrowly voted down but before the revised pact was reached - was designed to urge his delegates to lobby Detectives to vote against the DEA contract, as Mr. Palladino and Mr. Garvey asserted. "If we had wanted to sabotage the DEA's ratification process, we would have gone public before the [earlier] contract was submitted to - and rejected by - the DEA membership," Mr. Lynch said in a statement.

The original DEA contract, which called for further givebacks from incumbent officers and required many members to work lengthened tours but exempted others, was rejected by 111 votes in December. Ballots for the new deal are due to be counted March 15 by the American Arbitration Association.

    Patrick Lynch
  PATRICK J. LYNCH: Says colleagues kiss up.
By most accounts, the last two years of the DEA's current deal, which provide 3 and 3.15 percent wage increases without any concessions, if ratified will solidify a uniformed union pay pattern.

City negotiators have maintained that the pattern was already established by the Uniformed Firefighters' Association's 50-month deal last fall which provides the same raises of 3 percent and 3.15 percent in the last 26 months. That contract was overwhelmingly ratified.

Mr. Lynch said in a statement last week that his newsletter was in response to the "unprecedented and unwarranted public criticism leveled first by the DEA and LBA of the PBA's arbitration awards."

Defended Pay Award

He defended the award issued under the aegis of the Public Employment Relations Board in June, arguing that "while the adjustment of salaries of new hires was entirely unmerited, the PERB award was considerably better than the District Council 37 settlement."

The newsletter didn't mention that the uniformed supervisory unions have been placed at a disadvantage by that award, which was financed by drastically slashing the starting salary and pay scale for future Police Officers and other concessions. Because police titles above the entry rank have a lower attrition rate than Police Officers, the city's savings from those unions' concessions would be less, prompting the Bloomberg administration to demand added givebacks from supervisory unions to even out the costs.

'Lynch Doesn't Realize'

"None of the secondary or supervisory unions have been able to settle a deal because of the magnitude of these concessions," Mr. Palladino asserted. "I don't think Patty Lynch and the PBA understand the impact that their decisions have on all city workers."

He noted that many incumbent cops are against the modified DEA deal, which stretches the pay scale for new Detectives and requires them to work additional tours. "I've been going around the city trying to educate our members about the contract, and the ones who are most vehemently opposed to it are Pat Lynch's members who aspire to become Detectives," he said. "Eyes are starting to open up."

But Mr. Lynch maintained the PBA's arbitration awards have helped the other unions. "It is ironic, indeed, that these unions are disparaging an arbitration process that has resulted in tens of millions of dollars in additional compensation to their members in the last two rounds," he remarked. "As in the past, their comments lead me to believe that these union leaders are singing from the city's sheet of music."

'Created $25G Cops'

Mr. Palladino retorted, "Their decisions have created a $25,100 cop, fireman, Sanitation Worker, and Correction Officer, and effectively injured the promotional process in the NYPD." He was referring to the reduced starting pay that was ushered in by the PBA award.

The PBA letter also questioned the courage of the DEA and LBA leaders, charging that they are afraid to challenge management. "When was the last time you saw any of these unions publicly disagree with an action of the department or city?" Mr. Lynch asked. "Have you ever heard them say the pay of Detectives or Lieutenants is not acceptable?"

Mr. Palladino defended what he described as a solid working relationship with the "department's top brass." Those ties, he said, enable him to better help his members with transfers, disciplinary matters, and other issues.

The first page of the PBA letter cited a 1968 panel chaired by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, which stated that New York City Police Officers should be among the highest-paid cops in the country.

Other Side of the Ruling

Anthony Garvey    
TONY GARVEY: 'PBA just enriching lawyers.'  

Mr. Garvey, however, pointed out that page 24 of that panel's recommendation notes the longstanding parity between cops and Firefighter salaries in New York City. "Parity in compensation between firemen and patrolmen has been a historic practice for 80 years," the panel stated. "We find realistically that it should be maintained."

John F. Driscoll, the president of the Captains' Endowment Association, said he would be "shocked if an arbitrator would upset the pay parity between Police and Fire."

Mr. Garvey reiterated that the LBA is also looking to negotiate a four-year deal similar to the UFA agreement and the proposed DEA accord. The LBA, he added, has had continued talks with the city.

"They are progressing as expected," he said. "Any time you are in negotiations, the issue of values is always a give-and-take scenario, but at the end of the day people acting in good faith can come to a resolution."

The PBA letter, however, questioned Mr. Garvey's statement last year that the fire union deal would clarify his own options. "Why would a police union leader make that statement?" Mr. Lynch asked. "Has he surrendered his bargaining certificate? Why doesn't he simply allow the fire union to negotiate his contract?"

Lynch: Doesn't Bind Me

Mr. Lynch has so far rejected the city's assertion that the PBA must agree to similar contract terms, arguing that there is no established pattern that his union or any other uniformed labor organization must follow.

The PBA's letter contended that many police have been "bargaining by cover" by accepting patterns established by other unions. "It is all about being re-elected and not about doing what is best for your members," the pullout pamphlet stated. "In short, that discredited theory of bargaining is largely responsible for the hole we find ourselves in now."

Mr. Palladino replied, "If there is no such thing as pattern bargaining, then why is the PBA attempting to interfere with my four-year deal?"

The letter, Mr. Garvey charged, was written by the PBA's attorneys, "who stand to gain the most." He added, "The winners in the PBA arbitration were the attorneys who participated in the case and [PERB panel chair] Eric Schmertz, who was compensated $287,000 for the case."

Costs' Role in Dues Hike

The PERB hearings have cost the PBA millions of dollars in fees for attorneys and expert witnesses. Last April, the PBA increased its membership dues by $7 per paycheck, a 35-percent hike. Mr. Lynch said that the raise was necessary to cover the cost of recent contract arbitration hearings and to offset the loss of roughly 5,000 union members since he took office in 1999.

In four of the past five rounds of bargaining, dating back to 1991, the PBA's contract has been submitted to arbitration because of stalled negotiations, with only a 1994 contract reached at the bargaining table.

"I don't think they know how to negotiate a contract," Mr. Garvey charged.

The arbitration award issued last summer marked the second time it had been conducted under the auspices of PERB. The two previous arbitration awards were made by the city Board of Collective Bargaining.

PBA officials have claimed that they believe the Bloomberg administration has been intentionally driving the union into arbitration in an attempt to undermine the union's ability to negotiate in the future. They also faulted the other police unions for not sharing in the cost of the arbitrations.

'Never Offered Help'

"While benefiting from our PERB decisions, did they once offer to assist financially?" the PBA literature asked.

Mr. Palladino countered, "I'm not impressed with his strategy. First you gain peoples' trust, then you screw them, then you blame them, then you would like us all to chip in for it, too?"

Messrs. Palladino and Garvey repeated a charge first made last summer that Mr. Lynch reneged on a promise not to pursue an attrition-based deal with the city, a vow he has denied making.

"The PBA leadership is untrustworthy," Mr. Garvey contended. "In this business, your word is your bond." He continued, "If he had said that he could not adopt those rules, I would have adopted a different position this round of bargaining."

Mr. Palladino added, "How the hell can they blame the DEA and LBA when [the PBA] started the ball rolling?"

Mixed View on Impact

Mr. Driscoll said he believed the PBA's letter would not affect the DEA's contract vote. "I think this time it will pass comfortably," he remarked, noting that Mr. Palladino has visited most of his members' work sites to discuss the details of the agreement.

But Mr. Garvey was worried. "It certainly could influence the DEA deal," he said. "Why is someone commenting at this sensitive time? It's just bad business."

Asked whether he was concerned that the PBA might meddle with his yet-to-besettled deal, Mr. Garvey responded, "I've been under attack by real bullets; I'm not going to be concerned with being attacked with rhetoric."