New York 1 News

August 29, 2002

State Panel To Review PBA's Demands In Contract Battle With City

It's back to the drawing board for the state panel reviewing the contract dispute between the union representing police officers and the city.

The Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) announced Thursday that, beginning Tuesday, it will take a second look at 75 hours worth of testimony given by lawyers for the city and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association this past spring.

The Board had originally ruled that New York City police officers should receive a 10 percent raise over two years, far less than the 23 percent the PBA was looking for. The decision sparked a massive rally in Times Square earlier this month. The original proposal also called for police officers to work an extra 10 days each year.

"City Hall should stand behind us and pay us what we're worth,” said PBA President Pat Lynch. "We understand PERB is getting back together. We're hoping what they do is come up with a proposal that helps fix two problems: fix the city's problem of keeping New York City police officers on the streets; there's a huge crisis in New York City with recruitment. And fix the problem for our members. Treating them with the respect they deserve by paying them a decent, liveable wage."

Backing Lynch was new political ally, Senator Chuck Schumer, who first criticized the city and state for not following a pattern which worked for the teachers.

"Albany did it for the teachers,” Schumer said. “Why can't they do it for the cops and firefighters as well?"

Schumer then went after the feds for refusing to allow any of the $21 billion September 11 aid package to help pay for raises.

"We have an unusual situation, and let me say, if 9/11 hadn't occurred, the city would have had the money to give the police officers and firefighters the fair raise that they deserve,” Schumer said.

The PERB proposal, which would give 24,000 uniformed police officers their first raise in two years, is wildly unpopular with the rank and file who point to the city's plummeting crime as a clear justification for a bigger raise.

"To look at all of these accomplishments in the last 10 years,” said PBA delegate Aaron Jackson, “and the things that we have done and to say, 'Well, you're going to get a 5 percent raise and work 10 extra days for that raise' is an insult. It's ridiculous."

"I hope the city, the negotiators, and the arbitrators come to their senses,” said retired police officer Tom Bottoni. “Didn't they learn enough with 9/11?"

Some officers have been so angry with the apparent deal that there has been speculation about Lynch's job security. But when asked if he has plans to step down, Lynch told NY1, “I absolutely would never do that. The best job in the world is being a New York City police officer. The only job that's better is being elected to represent those members and I'm proud of it."

Lynch also referenced last year's PBA gathering, which ended less than two weeks before September 11. He also referred to the past year as the worst ever endured by the NYPD.

The NYPD has been working without a contract since June of 2000.

--Andrew Siff