New York Post
May 20, 2008

COP BOO$T IS BLUE HEAVEN

Panel Gives Rookies Extra 10G

By DAVID SEIFMAN, City Hall Bureau Chief

    POLICE ACTION:The city and the PBA reached agreement yesterday.
  POLICE ACTION:The city and the PBA reached agreement yesterday.

Starting salaries for rookie cops will jump from a dismal $25,100 to $35,881 under a decision announced yesterday by a state arbitration panel - a move that could boost lagging efforts at recruitment.

But the new cops hired after July will be paying a price for their long-awaited raise - they'll have to give up 10 of 20 vacation days each year for five years.

A three-member arbitration panel of the Public Employment Relations Board - in a divided, binding ruling - awarded all 23,000 uniformed cops compounded raises totaling 9.73 percent over the two years of an expired contract that ran from Aug. 1, 2004, to July 31, 2006.

Top pay will go from $59,588 to $65,382.

Under the old contract, rookie pay jumped to $32,700 after six months. As of July, all rookies, new and current, will make $35,881.

Although the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said it was pleased that the award was higher than that achieved by other uniformed unions, its representative on the arbitration panel refused to sign the decision, which was approved 2-1 by the mayor's representative and the neutral arbitrator.

"While we are pleased that this is a pattern-and parity-breaking award, we are disappointed that it does not go far enough towards making our pay competitive with other police departments," said PBA President Patrick Lynch.

aPolice Commissioner Ray Kelly, who has been complaining for years that low starting pay has demolished his recruiting efforts, offered qualified praise.

"While we wish the starting pay was higher, this is a step in the right direction," he said.

In addition to the loss of vacation days for rookies, the arbitrators ruled that all cops would have to use a vacation day to qualify on the firing range - effectively adding an extra workday.

The city also won the right to reschedule cops' tours with 24-hour notice 20 times a year, instead of 15, without paying overtime.

Mayor Bloomberg said the decision "gives our dedicated and hardworking police officers much-deserved raises. At the same time, the award provides savings through internal givebacks to best preserve the city's financial position going forward."

The city estimated that the deal will cost $50 million a year more than what was forecast. PBA officials put it at $200 million more.

One city official said the PBA had been hoping to win raises of 5 and 5 percent with no givebacks. Instead, the union received 4.5 and 5 percent, with the givebacks.

Bloomberg has been warning for weeks that the city might have to raise taxes if the arbitrators came in with numbers way outside the pattern, since the other uniformed unions have re-opener clauses in their contracts.

If they decided to invoke those clauses, city officials said the cost would come to $135 million between fiscal 2005 and fiscal 2008, assuming the same givebacks were attached.

Some cops weren't thrilled with the deal.

"It's insulting and it's not up to the cost of living," said one Manhattan cop, 27, with three years on the job. "Why do you think so many cops are still living with their parents?"

"Nothing's a raise when you have to give up days off," said another cop with 2½ years on the force.

Additional reporting by Murray Weiss and Kelly Magee

david.seifman@nypost.com