New York Daily News

August 27, 2008 


Finally, PBA and Mayor agree

Lisa ColangeloWhat a difference a nonarbitrated contract makes.

Mayor Bloomberg and Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch were all smiles at City Hall last Thursday when they announced a surprise contract deal.

For anyone who has been following the relationship between the Bloomberg administration and the PBA, it was a rare and unusual sight to see Lynch and Bloomberg standing together and even joking around.

To say their relationship has been prickly would be an understatement. An Internet search of Lynch, Bloomberg and PBA will provide a quick recap of the bitter, nasty contract battles in recent years.

This was the first contract between the PBA and the Bloomberg administration that was not settled through binding arbitration.

No one wanted to talk about that last week. What they did want to focus on was the new contract that boosts police starting salaries from $36,000 to more than $40,000. By the end of the contract, top pay will increase from $65,382 to $76,488.

The four-year contract, which runs from Aug. 1, 2006 to July 31, 2010, also includes salary increases of 4% per year, which compounded comes out to 16.99%.

You may have heard some larger numbers than these. When the new maximum salary [for cops with more than 51/2 years] is combined with longevity pay, holiday pay, night shift differential and other benefits, the city says the maximum salary will be more than $90,000 plus overtime.

Not all officers receive shift differential, and opportunities for overtime vary wildly depending on the commands.

The city also agreed to put more money into the Retiree Health and Welfare Fund and increased longevity pay.

Cops no longer have to use a vacation day to qualify at the police firing range. They will be allowed to once again go to the range on a work day.

The city also agreed to a pilot program for some cops at home on sick leave due to an injury or illness.

According to a statement by the city, they will "no longer be subject to home visitation and confinement, outside the hours of the employee's regularly scheduled tour of duty, provided the sick leave utilization remains at acceptable levels as negotiated by the parties."

In return, the union agreed to drop several lawsuits against the city.

The timing of the deal surprised almost everyone. The long-awaited arbitration settlement had just been handed down a few months ago.

What allowed the city and the PBA to finally sit down and hash out a deal?

Binding arbitration is long, tedious and costly. By the time cops get their raises and big retroactive pay, it is eaten away by taxes. Lynch said the previous raises received through arbitration bumped the salaries up enough that they could consider increases offered by the city.

For years the union has complained that NYPD salaries lag far behind those of cops in Nassau, Suffolk and other counties outside the city.

"Our mission was to start the march to market rate," Lynch said. "The arbitration helped do it."

One key test of the new contract will be whether it sparks more and different applicants to the job.

In recent years, low salaries have hampered recruiting efforts. Some veteran cops draw a link to embarrassing episodes involving newer cops, such as the rookie cop arrested for holding up banks and two female transit cops arrested last week for pistol-whipping a driver in an off-duty road rage incident.

For details on the contract, go to the mayor's Web site at www.nyc.gov, or the PBA site.

lcolangelo@nydailynews.com