New York 1 News

August 2, 2002

PBA Reportedly Close To Contract Agreement With The City

Sources tell NY1 a state arbitrator has zeroed in on this weekend, and wants a contract between the city and 24,000 uniformed cops within days.

Talks have heated up over the last two days, with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly personally sitting in on closed-door negotiations Thursday at City Hall. It was an urgent meeting aimed at hammering out a deal for members of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

Sources say voices were raised during the session, which brought Kelly and PBA leaders together with representatives from PERB, the state's Public Employment Relations Board. Hours later, sources say, the two sides met again and moved closer to a deal.

The PBA and city officials declined comment.

“There's nothing I can say about that meeting or the process in general,” said Commissioner Kelly. “That's up to the arbitrator to talk about the process."

Cops have been working without a contract for two years, and last year the city and the union turned to state mediators when talks stalled. The main sticking point is salary.

Sources tell NY1 the cops want something close to the pact city teachers ratified in June, a package which gave them a 16 percent raise, retroactive to the year 2000. This spring, the PBA asked for a 22 percent raise, even as Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the cash-strapped city couldn't afford it.

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

The two sides made their case to mediators in the spring, and PERB officials were getting ready this week to present a settlement which would be binding unless the two sides could reach a deal on their own. Sources say a flurry of conference calls and Thursday's meeting brought the two sides extremely close.

Commissioner Kelly wouldn't talk about the tone or substance of the meeting, but said a deal would be welcome in a department with morale issues over pay.

“It's been a long time in coming, and I think that obviously officers have done a terrific job in the city, and I'd like to see them get what is due them,” Commissioner Kelly said Friday.

The PBA maintains the city's low salary has sent cops bolting for the suburbs and for the Port Authority.

At the NYPD, the starting salary is nearly identical to the PAPD's, but after five years the Port Authority pays almost $20,000 a year more. It’s a disparity the PBA hopes its next contract will rectify.

- Andrew Siff