New York 1 News

September 4, 2002

PBA Reaches Agreement With City On Two-Year Contract

A state arbitration panel Wednesday awarded the city’s police officers a retroactive raise worth nearly 12 percent, ending a protracted contract battle but not the hostility between the union and the city.

In their next paycheck, the 24,000 officers in the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association will get a compounded increase of 5 percent for each year in the two-year contract, plus an additional 1.5 percent will be put in a pool for discretionary bonuses.

The contract covers the past two years the union has been working without a contract, so the new deal technically expired this past July.

With more negotiations ahead, Wednesday’s deal did little to end the acrimony. The union, which took the labor dispute to arbitration, praised the decision, while Mayor Michael Bloomberg derided the PBA for not accepting an earlier offer from the city that the mayor said was better.

"The PBA could have had a deal where for no extra hours worked whatsoever in the course of a year – true with 10 extra appearances, but with no more work – they could have gotten more than the pattern,” Bloomberg said. “The PBA, for reasons that I don't quite understand, chose to take less money."

The mayor had favored a deal for a 14 percent raise in exchange for having officers work 10 extra days per year, offset by working 20 minutes less each day. But the union considered Wednesday’s award a victory, because, leaders said, it broke the city’s tradition of negotiating the same pay increase with all of its unions.

"What the city was doing was asking us for blood money,” Pat Lynch, the president of the PBA, said. “[Bloomberg] talked about that productivity money. Let us remember that they wanted our members to come to work 10 additional times or to be on the street for 16 hours. That is both dangerous for our members and the citizens of the city."

Outraged officers spoke of a wildcat strike and the union staged a massive rally in Times Square after reports first surfaced that the arbitration panel – composed of one member appointed by each side and a third agreed upon by both – had drafted such an award. Officers said they deserved better, citing the record drop in crime and their response to the World Trade Center attack.

The panel did reconsider and came up the new plan, but it is still close to what other unions in the city have received.

Nonetheless, Lynch said that police officers are getting much more than Bloomberg or former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani offered in negotiations and that it took an arbitrator to get the raise. “"Both this administration and the past never realistically negotiated with this union,” he said. “At the negotiating table they only offered 2 percent and 3 percent. They're playing very loosely with the facts."

The PBA and the city have been far apart all along, with the union demanding a 39 percent raise at one point and later asking the arbitration panel for 23 percent The new contract raises starting salaries in the NYPD from $31,305 a year to $34,514, and top pay for the rank and file jumps from $49,023 to $54,048.

Bloomberg is vowing that unless the union agrees to more shifts for its members, they won’t get a bigger raise in the future, either.