New York Daily News

September 5, 2002

Cops get an 11.5% pay boost

State panel nixes plan for extra work shifts

By MICHELE McPHEE and MICHAEL SAUL
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

A state arbitration panel has granted cops an 11.5% raise over two years while scrapping a proposal to make New York's Finest work an extra 10 days a year — bringing a surprise ending to a long, bitter contract fight.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association claimed a modest victory as Mayor Bloomberg blasted the unexpected nixing of plans for extra shifts — calling it a "missed opportunity" that could have made streets safer and brought cops more money.

"The police officers are going to come out with less and the public is going to get less," the mayor said. "And it should not have come out this way."

Last month, it appeared the state arbitration panel, whose decision is binding, was going to give police a 14% raise over 30 months. That proposal would have reduced a cop's daily work shift by 20 minutes, but added 10 extra workdays a year.

Bloomberg favored the plan, but it was slammed by the union and spurred brief talk of a Labor Day walkout. Thousands of cops eventually rallied in Times Square against the deal.

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the three-member panel to change its decision.

Dana Eischen, chairman of the panel, whose other members include representatives of the mayor and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, did not return calls.

'Terrible advice'

The mayor said his representative wouldn't sign off on the deal, which required the approval of two of the three panel members.

"I don't know what got [Eischen] to change his mind, but whoever he listened to gave him terrible advice," he said.

Bloomberg said the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association will now get "exactly to the penny" what former Mayor Rudy Giuliani offered last year.

Association President Patrick Lynch, who was seeking a 23% raise for his membership, said yesterday cops did not get "all the money we deserve."

But he praised the outcome as superior to the original offer because there are "zero givebacks."

"They wanted us to work 10 additional days — that's two more weeks — or have our police officers on the streets for 16 hours," he said. "That would have been deadly for us and for the city. And, on top of that, they wanted to undervalue us for our time."

"The mayor not signing off on this shows exactly how mad the city is. If this was a loss to the PBA, why wouldn't the city sign it?" Lynch added. "The mayor has never negotiated with us. He should put his money where his mouth is."

Police, who have been without a contract for two years, have long been bitter over salaries that pale in comparison to other big-city departments. Their anger also was stoked over what they saw as a lack of gratitude by City Hall for their role in the record reduction in crime.

New York City rookies make about $31,000 per year, and the peak base salary is $49,000.

Bloomberg said city employees need to agree to productivity changes in exchange for raises. This year, the teachers reached a deal that gave them a 16% raise over 30 months for working 20 more minutes a day.

"We thought we came up with a way, like we did with the teachers, to get [cops] more money," Bloomberg said. "The PBA said no — they would rather not have any productivity enhancements."

The ruling is expected to set the standard for the city's contract negotiations with firefighters, who are on roughly the same pay scale as cops.