February 11, 2014

New Regime At City Hall Has PBA Back At Table

Pact 31/2 Years Out of Date

By Mark Toor


PATRICK J. LYNCH: A more-reasonable Mayor.


The frozen contract talks between the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the city may be thawing.

A report in Capital New York said that the two sides have met at that bargaining table at least once in the past few weeks. The PBA declined to comment on the report or on the status of negotiations.

Bloomberg’s Decree

All 152 city labor contracts are expired; the PBA’s ran out in Aug. 1, 2010. The Bloomberg administration told unions that in order to reach a new contract they would have to give up retroactive pay—a staple of city bargaining for 50 years—and agree to contribute to their health benefits.

The PBA began negotiations with the city last July but withdrew after the city said it was unwilling to modify its offer, which President Patrick J. Lynch characterized in September as “zero raises for the years 2010-2013, along with two years of 1.25-percent raises going forward. The offer also includes demands for health-benefit savings through employee cost-sharing, as well as productivity savings achieved by increasing scheduled appearances, reducing vacation days and diminishing holiday pay.”

Like the rest of the unions, the PBA decided to wait for Mayor de Blasio, who is considered more sympathetic to unions than Michael Bloomberg.

Mr. de Blasio may be friendlier, but his powers do not include printing money. Back pay for all the unions could total $4 billion, according to the Independent Budget Office, which is more than twice the city’s stated surplus. Mr. Bloomberg has been attacked for declaring his last budget balanced without accounting for all the unresolved contracts. Mr. de Blasio said last week that the situation creates “tremendous fiscal uncertainty.”

In a Jan. 22 letter to PBA members, Mr. Lynch said the organization had filed a declaration of impasse last November with the state Public Employment Relations Board.

‘PERB Wants Us Talking’

“Relying on the city’s representation that ‘there is a likelihood that the new administration and the PBA will benefit’ from resuming negotiations outside of the impasse-resolution process, PERB ordered the parties to return to the bargaining table,” he said in the letter.

He said the union would do so “in the hope that there has been a change to the harsh and inflexible demands that were advanced by the previous administration.

“The city, for its part, must follow through on the claims it has made to PERB that the parties will benefit by returning to the table, and must not merely seek to protract the process for some perceived advantage,” the letter continued. “NYC police officers, who have served this city so well with 7,000 fewer police officers, deserve to be compensated like other police professionals in this area and to have their contract resolved expeditiously.”

Mayor de Blasio’s Labor Commissioner, Robert W. Linn, was a consultant to the union during its 2002 arbitration battle with the Bloomberg administration.