New York Post
June 29, 2005

BLOOMBERG DEFENDS 10.25% COP RAISES

By DAVID SEIFMAN and LARRY CELONA

 
Blue losing green  

An arbitrator's award of raises for cops totaling 10.25 percent over two years doesn't break a pattern set earlier by civilian unions, because 5.5 percent is funded by givebacks, Mayor Bloomberg claimed yesterday.

"The award is consistent with the city's pattern for collective bargaining," the mayor said after the Public Employment Relations Board Impasse Panel announced its long-awaited decision.

The deal — which grants cops pay hikes substantially higher than those received by civilian unions — covers Aug. 1, 2002 to July 31, 2004, which means it's already nearly a year out-of-date.

The two 5 percent raises, compounded in the second year, mean that cops with at least five years on the job will receive retroactive checks averaging $13,500.

The total retroactive bill was put at $266.5 million.

Bloomberg issued a press release — without backup documents — suggesting the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association didn't make out as well as the double-digit results might indicate.

He said 3.2 percent was always on the table from the citywide collective-bargaining agreement.

 Lower starting pay, elimination of one personal day, and an increase from 10 to 15 in the number of days cops can be rescheduled without overtime are worth 5.5 percent to the city, Bloomberg added.

That leaves the city with a tab of 1.55 percent more than civilian municipal workers received, which the mayor argued is part of a "historic uniform differential."

PBA President Patrick Lynch told a meeting of 400 of his delegates that the arbitrator's ruling "significantly exceeds the existing pattern."

But he conceded that the sharply reduced starting pay was tough to take, although it doesn't affect anyone now on the force.

"I wonder if anybody will take this job in the future," he said.

The first class of recruits facing the lower pay will go into the Police Academy in January.

They'll earn $25,100 in the first six months — compared with $40,658 paid to those in next month's class.

Top pay will reach $59,588 in 5 1/2 years for the new hires, instead of five years for veterans.

But a police spokesman said the department doesn't believe the lower pay will hurt recruiting.

"We're confident that our recruiters, capitalizing on the draw of the nation's premier Police Department, will continue to recruit only the finest," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne.

The PBA package presents a problem to other uniformed unions because, as one insider put it, "they don't have the churn," or turnover of veteran cops being replaced by lower-paid rookies.

"It's going to be very difficult for us to replicate," said Tony Garvey, president of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association.