New York 1 News

March 18, 2002

PBA, City Resume Contract Negotiations

Talks are underway between the NYPD's largest police union and city officials to hammer out a new contract. NY1's Andrew Siff filed this report.

There's a lot on the line, both for the police union and the city. Police officers — even the newest ones — are bolting for greener pastures in the suburbs, but the cash-strapped city says it can't compete.

Monday, the union made its case for higher pay to a state arbitrator.

“At this point we're on our presentation,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said this afternoon. “We're trying to get a decent livable wage, and of course the city is trying their best not to do that. We're paid so far below what officers in surrounding jurisdictions are paid."

The PBA leader argues parity means his 24,000 members should be paid 22 percent more.

Lynch spoke with NY1 this afternoon during a break in talks with the city at Kaye Scholler, the Manhattan law firm handling the PBA contract.

The contract has ended up in arbitration with PERB, the state Public Employment Relations Board. Police have had rallies and even a billboard campaign in Times Square since their contract expired in the summer of 2000.

As NY1 first reported, the union is now arguing its case based on what a city panel recommended 34 years ago: that city cops should be among the highest paid in the nation.

“We're far from being one of the best paid in the nation,” said Lynch. “We're far down on the list, and at one time we were the highest paid department in the country."

City officials wouldn't comment on the closed door midtown meeting.

In recent weeks both the mayor and police commissioner have said the city's budget woes could prevent cops from getting the raise they're asking for. Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently asked Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to trim another 2.5 percent from the police budget, which could mean fewer cops and less money for raises.

Lynch knows the city expects him to come down from his 22 percent goal.

“We deserve substantially more than that but we're trying to be reasonable here,” said Lynch. “We understand where the city is and we're trying to get on the road to being paid what we deserve."

Monday's arbitration was the first of nine scheduled to hammer out a contract to cover the past two years. PERB officials are expected to make a binding ruling in May.

— Andrew Siff