Updated: 11:18 am, Wed Mar 11, 2015

PBA Contract Case To Wrap Up Just After Union Election


PATRICK J. LYNCH: Unlikely to have pact to run on.  

Four months after an arbitration panel was chosen to decide on a new contract for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, hearing dates have finally been set, with the case to begin on May 7 and conclude on June 18.

That final hearing will occur shortly after the union’s elections conclude. This means that unless the two sides abruptly change course and can reach agreement by themselves on a contract to replace the one that expired Aug. 1, 2010, PBA President Patrick J. Lynch will be asking his rank and file to give him a fifth four-year term amid uncertainty about new pay raises.

Doesn’t Want City Pattern

He has balked at a bargaining pattern established by the de Blasio administration that over a seven-year period has provided the four other police unions with 11-percent wage hikes. Although he had success in three different arbitrations over a six-year period beginning in 2002 in doing at least slightly better than the established wage pattern, it may be difficult to do so this time, which may explain why he didn’t attach greater urgency to beginning the hearings.

The two sides will meet four times in May before there is a two-week break due to scheduling issues for the three arbitrators. The panel, headed by veteran arbiter Howard Edelman, will resume hearings June 3 and meet eight times over a 16-day stretch. Once the oral arguments conclude, each side will submit written post-hearing briefs that will allow them to refine their arguments against the other party’s positions.

Mr. Lynch noted in a letter to union members that appeared on the Thee Rant website that the PBA would make the opening arguments in the case, with the city offering its response and then the union being able to present a rebuttal.

Chances to Modify

Before a final award is produced, Mr. Edelman will present tentative recommendations to the other members of the panel, PBA special counsel Jay Waks and city Labor Commissioner Robert W. Linn, each of whom can make objections and urge modifications. Mr. Waks also had that role in the 2005 and 2008 PBA arbitrations.

Mr. Linn, ironically, while he served as Mayor Ed Koch’s chief negotiator for six years in the 1980s, has been involved in just one PBA arbitration, and that was as a special adviser to the union for the 2002 proceedings. It is expected that the union will cite remarks he made back then about how inadequately its members are compensated compared to cops in nearby jurisdictions.

He scored a key victory for the city in a 1985 arbitration with the United Federation of Teachers, when he helped convince an arbitration panel that while starting and maximum salaries for Teachers ought to be raised above the citywide pattern to be able to better recruit and retain talented instructors, it was important to otherwise preserve that pattern by giving those at intermediate steps on the union’s pay scale raises that did not exceed those negotiated by unions for other civilian city employees.