Chief-Leader
August 5, 2013

 

With New Pact Three Years Overdue, PBA Comes Calling on City

Mayor’s Stand on Retroactive Raises, Health Benefits Makes Deal Unlikely

By Mark Toor

   

PATRICK J. LYNCH: Ready but not optimistic.

 

Three years after its old one expired, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has begun talks with the Bloomberg administration on a new wage contract.

No Give, All Take?

“We’ll always negotiate with the Mayor that’s in office,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said in an interview Aug. 1. “Whether they negotiate back is always a question.”

Just about all the city’s contracts with its unions have long passed their expiration dates. In April, Deputy Mayor Caswell Holloway wrote to Municipal Labor Committee Chairman Harry Nespoli, saying that the unions would have to give up any expectation of retroactive raises-which have been a staple for 50 years of collective bargaining—and agree to pay for some of their health benefits.

‘An Insult to Labor’

Mr. Nespoli rejected the proposal immediately, calling it “an insult to labor.” Many of the unions said they would wait for Mayor Bloomberg’s successor, hoping he or she would be more generous to municipal workers. Although some unions have been in contact with the Office of Labor Relations, none have reported progress. The Mayor’s Press Office did not respond to a query about the status of labor negotiations.

The PBA Beat newsletter, dated July 18 but posted on the union’s website July 30, said the first talks with the city will test “the outgoing administration’s willingness to reach a deal during its final days in office.”

The union’s contract committee “convened on July 11 to review the official list of bargaining demands,” the newsletter continued. “These demands were selected to address the most pressing issues facing union’s members, including a compensation proposal designed to close the salary gap between New York City police officers and those in other jurisdictions.”

“After the committee reviewed the demands and provided input, our negotiating team met with city officials on July 18 to discuss the PBA’s proposal,” the newsletter said. “...The negotiating team is now working to schedule the next formal bargaining session, at which the city will present its counterproposal.”

Wary of ‘Inflexible’ City

The newsletter noted that “city officials have taken a very public and aggressive position” on retroactivity and health benefits. “In the event that the administration maintains its inflexible stance, our goal is to have the negotiations process well underway by the time the next Mayor takes office,” the newsletter said.

Mr. Lynch said the NYPD had too few officers—in fact, about 7,000 fewer than the nearly 41,000 it had at its peak in 2001. This makes the pay more important than ever, he said, to recruit the best possible candidates and remove a reason why many leave for better-paying departments.

Staffing is further threatened by the impending retirements of thousands of officers hired during the Safe Streets, Safe City program. The first of them became eligible last fall. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly has said the latest class, hired last month, was increased from 800 officers to 1,247 to address that issue.

“They increased the most-recent class because they decreased the numbers in the classes before,” Mr. Lynch said. He said that even with the larger July class, “we’ll end up with a loss.”

In addition to money, he would like to see a modern duty chart—probably requiring fewer than five appearances every seven days—and better working conditions.