May 28, 2013


Letter from Patrick Lynch

Richard Steier’s May 24 Razzle Dazzle column “Legacy Bruised, Mayor Spinning Out of Control” leaves the reader with the impression that the hard-fought 2008 arbitration award to the PBA was a pattern-conforming decision, and that is simply not the case. No PERB arbitrator has upheld the so-called “pattern” in the face of the PBA’s argument that our members were not being paid at market rate. In all three PERB arbitrations, the panel granted raises to our officers that significantly exceeded the city’s alleged pattern.

You don’t have to take our word for it, because even the Citizens Budget Commission —which is clearly not the friend of anyone who actually works for a living—recently said in a report: "The 2008 [PBA] arbitration award for the 2004-2006 round of collective bargaining provided a 4.5 percent raise in the first year and 5 percent in the second year. These were greater than the wage increases (3 percent and 3.15 percent) that had been negotiated by firefighters, correction officers and sanitation workers ...."

This PBA administration has fought long and hard for our members and we are proud of significant gains in compensation we have won for them. Even with these gains over three PERB arbitration awards and a negotiated four-year contract, New York City police officers are still not being paid at a fair market rate of pay. We are still among the lowest-paid big-city police in the nation, and we will continue our fight until that injustice is corrected.


President, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association

Richard Steier replies: Mr. Lynch is correct that the basic wage hikes under the 2008 PBA arbitration award exceeded the uniformed contract deals for the same two-year period by a fairly significant amount. What neither he nor the Citizens Budget Commission—which has a vested interest, given its ideology, in inflating the costs of that deal—mentioned, however, is that the award came with givebacks, unlike those other uniformed pacts.

And where the 2005 arbitration award’s givebacks had no impact on officers already on the job, the 2008 one spread the pain among those cops and the “unborn.” All of them were subject to being rescheduled or called in on short notice for up to 11 days a year at regular pay rather than the overtime rate, and they all lost a vacation day that from then on had to be used to qualify annually at the NYPD gun range. A boost in starting salary for new hires was offset by the loss of 10 vacation days for each of their first five years on the job.

Add up the savings the city reaped because of those givebacks, and the overall edge the PBA award provided to its members dipped to 1.16 percent better than other uniformed workers, as we reported at the time. In characterizing the award as providing “similar terms” in last week’s column, I was mistaken—the deal was slightly better for PBA members once all its aspects were factored in.