July 28, 2001

Agreement compensates 13 unions

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced a contract deal Friday with 13 uniformed unions, including police supervisors, firefighters, sanitation workers and correction officers.

The tentative deal will give about 45,000 workers raises of slightly more than 11.5 percent over the next 21/2 years, city officials said.

The contract will cost about $500 million annually, most of which is planned in the current city budget. But city agencies will have to trim their budgets to save $100 million or more to pay for the contract, the mayor said.

The new agreement gives the unions a 5 percent raise this year and 5 percent next year, plus about 1.5 percent more for a six-month contract extension, City Hall said.

Budget watchdog groups complained that the city is being too generous with its money without asking for any givebacks or changes in work rules that would lead to greater productivity.

Police lieutenants, sergeants, captains and detectives were part of the deal negotiated by a coalition of unions.

This contract is expected to put pressure on two unions, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the United Federation of Teachers, which have not yet reached agreement with the city. Both unions are demanding substantial raises to narrow the pay gap between the city and suburbs.

An official from one city union said Friday's announcement is "a crowbar to the kneecaps of the PBA,” because it sets a pattern for uniformed workers that City Hall can argue is appropriate for police officers, too.

The PBA has demanded a 39 percent pay hike over two years. PBA president Patrick Lynch, in a statement, said Friday's deal is "reasonable” for unions "not facing a recruitment and retention crisis.”

The cops union won a state appeals court ruling two weeks ago to negotiate a new contract using state rules, rather than city rules, which the PBA believes would give its 27,000 members a better deal. The city is appealing that ruling.

This spring, the city gave civilian workers in District Council 37, the largest union, 4 percent pay increases in each year of a 27-month contract, plus salary sweeteners. DC 37 declined to comment Friday.

At a news conference, Giuliani said he wanted to reward sanitation, correction, police and fire unions -- all his close political allies -- for making the city safer and cleaner.

"It is a little bit more and it is symbolic,” Giuliani said.

Giuliani said the contract includes provisions for merit pay, though city agencies have yet to set terms for bonuses.

Norman Seabrook, president of the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association, who headed the union coalition, said the unions wanted to make the best deal now in case the economy crumbles. "I don't have a crystal ball,” Seabrook said.

This deal places the unions between rich pay hikes of the 1980s, when unions got 6 percent a year, and the early '90s, when unions accepted five-year contracts with a few years of no increases.

Diana Fortuna, president of the Citizens Budget Commission, a budget watchdog group, was disappointed that the contract doesn't pay more to workers in shortage areas, like teachers.

"Why give sanitation men a 10 or 11 percent raise when they have 74 applicants for every job opening?” she said.