New York Post
August 6, 2002

COPS MULL SHUFFLING SHIFTS FOR HIGHER PAY

By DAVID SEIFMAN

Cops would work extra — but restructured— shifts under a plan being discussed by the Bloomberg administration to boost police pay, The Post has learned.

Sources said a three-member arbitration panel is prepared to award cops — who have been without a contract since July 2000— the same 10 percent wage increase over two years previously given to the 13-union Uniformed Forces Coalition.

But city officials are in last-minute negotiations with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association to provide a larger wage hike in return for the right to reconfigure the standard eight-hour, 35-minute shift now worked by most cops.

"If you take 20 minutes from each day, you could repackage it into extra tours," said one source. "That way, the city would need less cops to do the job."

Both sides have a huge stake in reaching a settlement that doesn't damage police morale.

After watching teachers walk off with a 16 percent pay increase over 30 months, few cops will be content with 10 percent over 24 months. The PBA had demanded 21.9 percent.

"Expectations are so high, realistic outcomes cause problems with cops," one insider conceded.

But if cops bust the pattern, other unions will be screaming "me, too," in their next contract talks.

That would wreak havoc with the city budget, which already has a $3.7 billion hole next year.

One solution under discussion is shortening cops' tours to eight hours, 15 minutes, generating enough time for 10 additional shifts.

The extra shifts would allow police brass to assign cops to major events, such as the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square, without incurring massive overtime bills.

Arbitrators can't dictate contracts longer than 24 months.

So the city and PBA President Patrick Lynch would both have to sign off on any extensions.

Sources said Lynch, who is up for re-election next June, is prepared to walk rather than agree to a contract that might antagonize his members.

Both sides declined comment before the arbitration panel makes an official announcement.