The Chief
October 12, 2007

DEA Pact: 17% Raise Plus Key Benefit Gains

Increase Promotions, Annuity, Longevity In 4-Year Deal

By REUVEN BLAU

The Detectives Endowment Association's tentative contract deal with the Bloomberg Administration Oct. 2 would give union members raises of nearly 17 percent over 4 years, add 240 officers to the upper grades, and offer a $4,515 one-time annuity fund increase and $2,500 in longevity hikes.

JAMES F. HANLEY: Builds pressure on PBA.
JAMES F. HANLEY: Builds pressure on PBA.

The proposed contact, which would run from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2012, marks the first time in decades that the DEA negotiated a new agreement on time, said union President Michael J. Palladino.

'Tired of Waiting'

"This was a true indication of the membership speaking and leadership acting," he said shortly after the deal was announced. "The membership was upset that they never had a contract on time and had to wait for years at times to settle a contract, which is a legitimate complaint."

The new agreement, which is consistent in its cost to the city with other uniformed union settlements reached over the past several months, must still be ratified by the DEA's 5,300 members.

TAKING THE LEAD: With Mayor Bloomberg looking on, Detectives Endowment Association President Michael J. Palladino Oct. 2 hailed the tentative contract deal, which marked the first time in decades that the DEA negotiated a new agreement on time. The proposed pact would give union members raises of nearly 17 percent over 4 years, add 240 officers to the upper grades, and offer a $4,515 one-time annuity fund increase and $2,500 in longevity hikes.

The Chief-Leader/Adrienne Haywood-James

TAKING THE LEAD: With Mayor Bloomberg looking on, Detectives Endowment Association President Michael J. Palladino Oct. 2 hailed the tentative contract deal, which marked the first time in decades that the DEA negotiated a new agreement on time. The proposed pact would give union members raises of nearly 17 percent over 4 years, add 240 officers to the upper grades, and offer a $4,515 one-time annuity fund increase and $2,500 in longevity hikes.

If approved, the pact would place further pressure on the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which has arbitration hearings scheduled for next month. The PBA is now the only police union without an up-to-date agreement and a newly negotiated contract, city negotiators have pointed out.

Under the tentative contract, all Detectives would receive 4-percent hikes effective April 1, 2008 and April 1, 2009, which is similar to the pattern established in March by the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

The contract's last two years - comparable to the Sergeants Benevolent Association's agreement settled in July - include 4-percent raises effective April 1, 2010 and April 1, 2011.

Other Key Gains

The DEA also negotiated added annuity boosts, welfare-fund raises, two longevity hikes for veteran Detectives, and a civil legal representation fund increase. "This is a great day for the rank of Detective," Mr. Palladino told reporters at a press conference in City Hall's Blue Room. "This is a very equitable contract."

At the end of the agreement, a Third-Grade Detective's basic maximum salary - minus longevity, overtime, and other benefits - would be $84,508, up from the current $72,238. The basic top pay for Second-Grade Detectives would rise to $94,962, as compared to the present $81,174. The maximum salary for a First-Grade Detective would rise to $109,002, up from the current $93,176.

PATRICK J. LYNCH: Insists on market rate.
PATRICK J. LYNCH: Insists on market rate.

The DEA also used .41 percent of unit value in the contract's first two years to eliminate one salary pay step for all its members. Under the proposed deal, all Detectives would reach maximum pay after five years - a year earlier than at present - and six pay steps.

"I tried to maximize the value for our members, without having an extension on the contract," Mr. Palladino said.

More in Upper Grades

Based on the tentative agreement, the current number of budgeted positions for First- and Second-Grade Detectives would be increased by 4.92 percent - or 240 positions - of the current bargaining unit, effective Nov. 1.

Those promoted officers would bring the percentage of Detectives in the top two grades up to 25 percent of the total membership, Mr. Palladino said. By contrast, only 10 percent of the DEA membership was in the upper grades before Sept. 11, 2001. "That means that 90 percent of members would work hard, but never be recognized," the union president remarked.

In the 1970s, Mr. Palladino noted, 40 percent of the total Detective complement was in the two higher grades. Back then there was a total of 2,600 Detectives, of which roughly 1,000 were in the higher grades.

There are presently 4,500 Third-Grade Detectives, 650 Second-Grade Detectives, and 205 First-Grade Detectives.

Annuity Pay Equalized

The DEA also negotiated several other benefits. Effective May 1, 2009, the city's contribution to the Annuity Fund would increase so that all grades are equalized at the level of $5 per day per employee, the Office of Labor Relations said.

Currently, Third-Grade Detectives receive $3.75 a day, Second-Graders get $4, and First-Graders receive $4.25 each day, according to the DEA. Newly promoted Detectives presently get $2 daily for the first five years.

Also, effective May 1, 2011, the city would make a $4,515 one-time lump sum contribution to the annuity fund for each employee.

In addition, for retirees there would be a $100 rate increase in the city's annual contribution to the welfare fund effective May 1, 2009. For active Detectives, there would be a $100 increase to the fund, effective May 1, 2011.

Benefit funds provide city workers, retirees, and dependents with an array of supplemental health benefits such as for prescriptions and eyeglasses not covered under city-administered health insurance plans.

"We do optical, dental, prescription, catastrophic coverages, and hearing aids," Mr. Palladino said. The DEA's fund also offers its members who worked at Ground Zero a body scan designed to detect potential health ailments.

Longevity Boosts

Under the tentative agreement, there would also be a $1,000 increase on the 15-year and 20-year salary steps of the longevity schedule, effective Nov. 1, 2008. In addition, there would be a $1,500 raise on the same salary steps effective April 1, 2010.

"Better than 70 percent of our members have more than 11 years on the job," Mr. Palladino noted in explaining why he focused on the upper longevity steps rather than spreading out the money to also boost the five- and 10-year differentials. "And for those who are younger, they will mature into those longevity steps."

As part of the proposed contract, there would be a $50 increase per employee in the city's annual contribution to the DEA's Civil Legal Representation Fund. The account is used to defend union members who become defendants in civil suits as a result of their work.

Mayor: Will Talk to PBA

Mayor Bloomberg hailed the work the DEA members have done and noted that other police forces send their Detectives to New York for training. The Mayor also emphasized - as he repeatedly has in announcing uniformed contract deals in recent months - that the city was willing to bargain with PBA.

"We are always willing to negotiate," he told reporters. "I've always thought you get a better deal that way."

The PBA, which has rejected the city's prior offers to increase starting pay and raise salaries because those deals were also partly financed with givebacks, maintained that the union was also willing to address the low starting pay that has led to the NYPD's recruitment crisis.

"The solution begins and ends with paying New York City Police Officers a competitive top salary," said PBA President Patrick J. Lynch in a statement issued after the DEA agreement was announced. "When you have places like Elizabeth, New Jersey, with a lower median income and much smaller tax base than New York City paying its police over 25 percent more than New York City police officers at top pay, it's no wonder we can't attract candidates."

He added, "Surely, the Greatest City on Earth should be able to pay its police officers salaries competitive with our less-prosperous, less-complex, less-populous, less-vital neighbors across the river."

City Labor Commissioner James F. Hanley maintains that the uniformed pattern has already been set by the UFA and SBA.

'Put Himself in Corner'

"I just think that Lynch has just painted himself in the corner," said one union official on condition of anonymity. "All the union guys, whether it's fire, police, sanitation, corrections, sidestepped the PBA and went right past them, because nobody can trust them."

The city's uniformed unions alleged that before the previous round of bargaining Mr. Lynch vowed not to accept an attrition-based contract, which would create havoc for the smaller supervisory unions due to their more-stable memberships. When an arbitrator in June 2005 proposed such an award, however, Mr. Lynch went along and said his pledge did not apply to arbitration. Other uniformed unions were forced to make added concessions to match the PBA's two 5-percent raises because their lower attrition rates offered less savings to the city when they followed the PBA's lead in reducing the pay scale for new members.

"This is what they created," the union official asserted, referring to the PBA's predicament. "Where the rest of the labor movement in the uniformed forces just went right past them, and that's a result of how they treated the rest of the unions last round."

Last March, the DEA agreed to lengthen tours for most Detectives by 18 minutes and made other concessions in order to generate 4.24 percent in savings to match the attrition-based pattern set by the PBA's arbitration award. In contrast, many other uniformed unions reduced starting pay.

Not a Major Hardship

"We were very fortunate; we were able to do it with minutes, because our detectives normally come in early and leave a little late anyway," Mr. Palladino said last week.

Mr. Palladino noted that many of the benefits in last week's proposed deal would ameliorate those concessions. The DEA, however, decided against negotiating on returning the prior tour schedule. "I think it's too expensive to go after," Mr. Palladino responded after a reporter asked about the issue.

During a phone interview several hours later, he added, "It seems to be a non-issue. I had put a survey out prior to going to negotiations to see what issues they wanted to pursue, and not one of those surveys came back asking to repeal the minutes."