New York Daily News

City, PBA debate raises, rookie pay


May 24, 2006—Negotiations between the Bloomberg administration and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association took an odd turn last week when City Hall sources slipped reporters the latest contract offer.

Rookie pay — sore point in the last contract — will be raised under the proposal. New hires, who currently start at an annual rate of $25,100 for the first six months they are in the Police Academy, will get a boost — to $36,123 — for that period. But there is a price to pay. New cops would lose 10 vacation days and six holidays until they reach maximum pay — $63,309 — at 5-1/2 years.

Current cops would get a salary boost of 6.24% over the two years of the proposed deal.

By releasing the details of the latest offer, the city was clearly trying to put pressure on the PBA. The unpopular slash in rookie pay — part of the arbitration contract deal approved by the city and the union last year — would be fixed by this offer.

Some cops still grumble that it's less than the 10.25% they received under the contract signed after binding arbitration. Ten vacation days, some think, is a big hit for rookies.

The city, in the midst of major recruitment problems in the Police Department, is trying to get the message out to potential cops that they are doing what they can to raise the starting pay.

And city officials point out there are no givebacks for cops already on the force.

"This is a solution that raises the salary of new police officer recruits, and also gives current officers a raise consistent with what other uniformed services have had," said one administration official.

According to The Chief-Leader, applicants for the June 17 police exam are down 26% over the same period last year.

The PBA has yet to officially respond to the offer, but the early indictions aren't good.

"Once again, the city expects police officers to pay for their own raises while failing to close the gap at all levels of salary between New York City police and surrounding communities, from entry level to critical top pay," PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement.

And other uniformed unions may have boxed in the PBA — the way they say the police union boxed them in after the arbitration award.

Firefighters, police detectives and correction officers all received the 10.25% increases, but also had to accept slashed starting pay for new members.

Leaders of those unions said they could have cut better deals on their own. They decided to settle with the city on four-year contracts, accepting 3% and 3.15% for the last two years.

If the PBA wants to break that pattern, it may have to go back to costly and time-consuming arbitration.