New York Post
March 1, 2006

COP UNIONS IN CIVIL WAR OVER CONTRACTS

By STEPHANIE GASKELL

PBA President Pat Lynch/Photo by Robert Kalfus     
PBA President Pat Lynch
Photo: Robert Kalfus
 

Long-simmering hostilities over divergent contract strategies exploded yesterday as the head of the detectives union accused his counterpart at the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association of selling out all cops.

"In my opinion, any union leader who creates and signs off on a $25,000 rookie police officer has no credibility," fumed Michael Palladino, president of the 5,500-member Detectives Endowment Association.

He was referring to the controversial contract, covering mid-2002 to mid-2004, won by the PBA last year. It raised pay for veteran cops by 5 percent each year, but lowered the starting salary of recruits to $25,100.

PBA President Patrick Lynch, who reluctantly accepted that deal in an arbitration proceeding, fired back that at least he didn't force his members to work longer hours — as Palladino did in his own contract.

"The PBA does not accept the city's premise that a raise must be paid for by giving up hard-fought benefits or extending working hours," Lynch said.

"Any union leader who accepts that premise shouldn't be representing police professionals, who risk their lives every time they go to work."

The tentative DEA pact was narrowly voted down after hard bargaining by Palladino. A new vote on a modified version is scheduled for March 15.

Palladino and leaders of the other police unions — sergeants, lieutenants and captains — have been steaming privately at Lynch for accepting the lower starting pay, which they claim makes it difficult for them to achieve similar savings.

The PBA has about 3,000 recruits a year, generating enormous savings to pass on to veteran cops. Detective turnover is just 300 a year.

In order to achieve the same 5 percent raises that the PBA got, Palladino signed on to a four-year pact with raises of 3 percent in the third year and 3.15 percent in the fourth.

Those numbers infuriated Lynch because he felt the Bloomberg administration would try to lock the PBA into the same pattern in the next round of bargaining.

The behind-the-scenes tension became public when Lynch wrote a 15-page letter on the PBA Web site, explaining "why the actions of certain other police unions threaten to undermine the gains we have made in bargaining."

Lynch charged that Palladino was going on the offensive in order to cover his inability to deliver a decent contract.

Palladino shot back, "Lynch created this situation by agreeing to lower salaries for rookies in the first place. He's talking out of both sides of his mouth."

The Sergeants Benevolent Association recently accepted the same terms as the PBA, including lower starting pay.

Lieutenants and captains are in negotiations. Tony Garvey, president of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association, was among first to warn last year that the PBA deal boxed in the other police unions.

Last night, Garvey said, "The PBA can play the blame game all they want, but I'm going to focus on getting my contract done."

stephanie.gaskell@nypost.com