New York 1 News

August 24, 2004

Police Contract Dispute Bound For Arbitration

With the city and the main police union at odds over a new contract, the state has ordered them to enter binding arbitration.


Under state law, the two sides will pick three arbitrators. That panel will then hear arguments from both sides and then present the terms of a new contract.

"It has to be done now; now is the time," said a policeman's widow at a demonstration held by children, parents and spouses of officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty outside City Hall Tuesday.

Despite the decision, the union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, still plans to demonstrate during the Republican National Convention. The President of the union says he hopes Mayor Michael Bloomberg will change his mind before arbitration proceeds.

"Anytime in that process, this mayor can come to the table and we can come to a resolve," said PBA President Pat Lynch. "We're asking him to do that; we're at the table waiting. He refuses to do it."

The last police contract was also decided by arbitration in 2002.

The mayor says the city just does not have the money to give cops what they want without concessions from the union and is willing to go the arbitration route.

"Some have not been willing to change anything that will let us do more with less and give that money to their members, and they have the right to go to arbitration," said Bloomberg. "One group has done that, and another looks like they are going to do that. That's fine. That's what the legal process allows."

That other group is the firefighters union. A state-appointed mediator is trying to work out a deal between that union and the city. The firefighters say they're looking into arbitration as well.

Angelica Allen, who lost her firefighter husband on September 11th, says the men and women who risk their lives to save others deserve to get more than the 4 percent raise the Bloomberg administration is offering.

"I think he should try a little bit harder because after all not everybody can do this job and people's lives are on the line," said Allen. "I think risks should be associated with the reward."

Members of both the police and fire unions called on President George Bush Monday to get involved in contract negotiations on their behalf. He refused – a White House spokesperson would only encourage both sides in the matter to come to an agreement.

For weeks, members of the unions have been putting pressure on the mayor by shadowing him at public events and at his home. Union leaders say they may file a lawsuit seeking to challenge the police practice of creating a 30-foot security buffer around the mayor.