New York 1 News

March 12, 2002

Police Union Asks For 22 Percent Pay Raise

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association is ready to ask a state panel to order big raises for more than 24,000 police officers, according to a memo obtained by NY1.

The memo shows that the union has come up with a new legal argument – a decades-old ruling the PBA said requires the city to pay New York's finest on a par with other big city police officers.

The PBA said a panel appointed by former mayor John Lindsay in 1968 issued a finding that requires city officers to be among the highest paid in the nation.

The union cited that conclusion in the memo, which has been sent to a state arbitration panel.

The memo argues that New York's Finest are getting paid far less than other officers in the nation – or even than officers in the metropolitan area.

It says officers are "grossly underpaid by the city,” making on average as much as $27 per hour less than police on Long Island and approximately $17 an hour less than the average in Westchester.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly doesn't disagree that officers deserve a raise.

“I'd like to see them rewarded as much as possible,” Kelly said. “But it's constrained by the city's ability to pay."

The PBA memo asks a state arbitration panel to award a minimum 21.9 percent raise to 24,000 officers who have been working without a contract for nearly two years.

And while Mayor Michael Bloomberg might also be sympathetic, he's faced with a huge budget deficit and has included the NYPD in citywide budget cuts.

The mayor said he expects concessions from union leaders to help the city in lean times.

"I'm hoping the federal government, state and unions will help us meet our goals," Bloomberg said.

But the PBA said lumping police in with other unions is a mistake, especially after September 11, and given the huge drop in crime over the past decade.

The PBA closes its memo, which was filed at the Public Employment Relations Board, by writing, "In sum, the city has chiseled away the salary of police officers during the 1990s by forcing on police officers the same increases, and no increases for three and a half of those years, that it granted all other city employees."

The memo also charges that salary is a main reason why the NYPD has suffered a mass exodus, with dozens leaving just last week for the Port Authority.

Union officials did not comment Tuesday.

Even if the Board grants a retroactive raise after Monday's hearing, it would be for a deal which expires this summer, leaving the city – in the same financial straits – to negotiate another contract.

--Andrew Siff