Chief-Leader
November 30, 2015 5:45 pm

 

PBA Jumps Back On Contract Horse, Asks City for New Talks

By RICHARD STEIER 

    
PATRICK J. LYNCH: Ready to pursue a new deal.  
 
MAYOR DE BLASIO: Likely to still insist pattern be honored.  

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, stung by what it considered a disappointing contract award that led it to harshly attack both the arbitrator who delivered it and the city’s top negotiator—who signed off on it—is looking to get back to the bargaining table before the end of the year.

Sources on both sides said the union had, within a week of the Nov. 13 arbitration award granting just two 1-percent raises under a two-year contract, sent a letter to Labor Relations Commissioner Robert W. Linn formally requesting bargaining on a new agreement.

Went All-In on Arbitration

The union had requested the arbitration in May 2014 immediately after the United Federation of Teachers reach­ed the first wage settlement with the de Blasio administration and did not waver from its course after a coalition of uniformed unions including three that represented higher ranks in the NYPD agreed to a seven-year contract providing an 11-percent raise—1 percent above what the UFT obtained for the same period.

Under the rules of the state Public Employment Relations Board, a contract award cannot be for longer than two years unless both sides consent to an extension. And while the PBA might figure to have an interest in making up the ground lost, it has made clear that it still considers the final five years of the uniformed-union deal, which granted a total of 9 percent in wage hikes over a five-year stretch, unacceptable.

During a demonstration outside Gracie Mansion Nov. 11—two days before the award was finalized but after Mr. Edelman had already made his recommendation to Mr. Linn and the PBA’s representative on the panel, Jay Waks, a spokesman for PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said that the union’s next move would be to “negotiate with City Hall and if they give us a market rate of pay, we’ll do it through negotiations. If that doesn’t happen, we’ll be at PERB. If we go to PERB again, we have a good case.”

At the heart of the union’s differences with the de Blasio administration—and with the neutral arbitrator, as it turned out—is its belief that its members’ salaries should be compared to those of cops in neighboring jurisdictions to determine what the “market” is for police officers, rather than having raises determined by a pattern established by other municipal unions.

Pattern Persuasive

Mr. Edelman, however, made clear he was persuaded by the fact that the other four city police unions had agreed to the pattern—with the Sergeants’ Benevolent Association doing so in a separate negotiation after its counterparts representing Detectives, Lieutenants and those in the ranks of Captain and higher did so as part of the uniformed coalition—that it should be honored. A prime factor in that decision, he wrote in his 100-page ruling, was, “Giving the PBA more would heighten acrimony between it and the other uniformed union leaders and would render it unlikely that voluntary settlements could be achieved in the future.”

While there is no question, in the wake of the PBA’s slashing attacks on Mr. Edelman’s judgment and integrity, that a different arbitrator would be jointly selected by the parties if they were unable to work out a new deal in bargaining, the union would still be faced with the difficulty of convincing whom­ever was chosen to disregard the pattern established in the second two years of the coalition contract, which also provided raises of just 1 percent annually.

Ironically, while several uniformed-union leaders who accepted those terms have described them as inadequate and said gains in other areas were what made the deal palatable to them, the raises have taken on some appeal simply because of how much time has elapsed since their prior deals expired.

Back Pay Enticing

Mr. Edelman made note of that in his award, stating that the two 1-percent raises he recommended carried with them roughly $8,000 in back pay for Police Officers who had been on the job since the expiration of the previous PBA pact on Aug. 1, 2010. He then pointed out that if the union obtained another two-year deal with 1-percent annual raises that would take effect retroactive to Aug. 1, 2012 and 2013, the time elapsed since then would mean another $6,000 in back pay for those officers.

Mayor de Blasio in the wake of the arbitration award had said he remained willing to engage in meaningful negotiations with the PBA on a longer deal. Given his interest and Mr. Linn’s in protecting the pattern reflected in the final five years of the uniformed-union deals, however, when the two sides get together later this month, a considerable gulf figures to exist between them.