July 29, 2014

PBA, Sharpton Duel On Disciplinary Legislation

Would Be Subject to Bargaining


PATRICK J. LYNCH: ‘Just gives us chance to negotiate.’  

AL SHARPTON: Part of bill’s opposition.


Five advocacy groups have asked Governor Cuomo to veto a bill that would allow collective bargaining over discipline of police officers to take precedence over laws and regulations currently in force.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association maintains the opponents are misrepresenting the bill by saying it would compromise local-government control of police departments.

Sharpton, SEIU Involved

“The proposed law undermines the authority of a city’s or town’s mayor and other officials to establish standards of conduct and performance for police, and to hold police officers accountable for failure to meet those standards,” said the letter, dated July 23 and signed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the State NAACP Conference, Locals 32BJ and 1199 of the SEIU, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and Communities United for Police Reform.

“Through the collective-bargaining process, union officials will seek to insulate rank-and-file members from discipline,” the letter continued. “Elected officials will be bound by union contracts that limit or obstruct investigations into misconduct and imposition of discipline. As a consequence, the authority of local officials to deter police misconduct will be seriously compromised; public accountability for the conduct of police will be all but eliminated.”

Leroy Gadsden, head of the Jamaica, Queens, chapter of the NAACP, is quoted on Facebook saying, “This bill undermines all of our efforts in getting the Community Safety Act passed (stop-and-frisk bill), bestowing disciplinary powers to the Citizen Complaint Review Board, and employing an Inspector General for the Police Department.”

PBA: ‘Misrepresenting’ Bill

PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said opponents of the bill have it wrong. “The NYCLU is completely misrepresenting this legislation that will allow us nothing more than the opportunity to sit at a table and negotiate a process of discipline that will be fair to police, effective for 

municipalities and will protect everyone’s civil rights including police officers,” he said in a statement. “We urge the Governor to sign this bill that will encourage communication between municipalities and the men and women who protect them.”

Another union official said that one goal of the bill is to stop departments from transferring officers who have been disciplined into dead-end jobs, an informal punishment that follows the formal suspension or other penalty.

The bill seeks to reverse a series of court decisions that strengthened the hands of municipalities on police discipline.

“Early Taylor Law decisions established that disciplinary procedures were terms and conditions of employment subject to collective bargaining, and many collective-bargaining agreements containing disciplinary provisions and procedures were adopted across the state, including those negotiated by police labor unions,” according to a statement attached to the bill that explains the perceived need for it.

‘Consistent With Taylor Law’

“Over time, a series of judicial decisions, including most notably the New York City PBA case decided by the Court of Appeals in 2006, found a countervailing policy in favor of strong local control of discipline to override the public policy expressed in the Taylor Law favoring the collective bargaining of all terms and conditions of employment...

“This bill would legislatively overrule the judicial decisions on this issue and would belatedly make...Civil Service Law consistent with the Taylor Law by declaring it to be the public policy of the State of New York that all terms and conditions of public employment including police discipline are subject to mandatory negotiability under the Taylor Law.”

The text of the bill says that any laws involving “the removal or suspension of officers or employees in the competitive class of civil service... may be supplemented, modified or replaced by agreements negotiated between the state and an employee organization...”

The letter from the advocacy groups noted that similar bills had been vetoed by Mr. Cuomo’s three predecessors.