New York Daily News

August 21, 2002

Wait and See by PBA on Contract Ruling

By BILL FARRELL

As Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch has been rightly pointing out, the Public Employment Relations Board has not formally rendered its decision on a new contract for his members.

Formal or not, Mayor Bloomberg has made it clear he had no interest in sitting down with the union to work out a deal.

"They got themselves in a situation where win, lose or draw — when you go to binding arbitration — you have to live with it," the mayor said last week.

The PBA is still awaiting the formal decision, but the deal is believed to call for a 10% raise over two years retroactive to 2000, plus an additional 3.5% linked to adding 10 work days a year.

The additional days so stunned Lynch that union officials are contemplating going to court because the productivity issue never came up before the board.

On the other hand, the Public Employment Relations Board contract is already expired, meaning the PBA can go back to the table and negotiate on the productivity issue.

"We're in unchartered waters here," said PBA spokesman Al O'Leary.

Police officers aren't alone in waiting for the board's formal ruling. The Uniformed Firefighters Association and Sergeants Benevolent Association are without contracts. Both unions also have newly elected presidents.

Last August, the Uniformed Firefighters Association board agreed to present to its members for a vote an offer identical to those agreed to by other unions. That deal called for a 12% raise over 30 months.

But the process came to a halt after Sept. 11 and has been on hold ever since.

"We're going to wait and see what the final PERB decision is before we move forward," said Uniformed Firefighters Association President Stephen Cassidy.

"Even before Sept. 11, we lost three members on Father's Day. The one thing my membership doesn't want is to be lumped in with everyone else. If firefighters and police make 1% or 2% more, the world is not going to end."

As for the sergeants' association, the membership was presented with the pattern offer last summer, and it was overwhelmingly rejected.

With union elections held in the spring, they too decided to wait for the Public Employment Relations Board. The union can continue to wait, or newly elected President Ed Mullins can set up a meeting and go back to the bargaining table.