The New York Times

December 19, 2000

City Hall and Police Union Trade Blame as Talks Stall


The breach between the Giuliani administration and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association widened yesterday as each side accused the other of using feints and public relations ploys to avoid seriously negotiating a new labor contract.

The city's five-year contract with the P.B.A., the city's largest police union, expired in July, and the two sides have been negotiating for months. But the union declared last week that the city had failed to put forward any salary offer and it filed a notice of impasse, in which it sought the appointment of a mediator to enter the talks.

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani yesterday characterized the P.B.A. position as disingenuous and said the city had indeed offered the union's 26,500 members a raise.

''The exact amount of that raise would be between 2 and 2.5 percent, depending on how it got negotiated out,'' Mr. Giuliani said. ''I can say that because that is actually in the budget. To say that we are offering less than that would be dishonest. To say we might offer more in the negotiations, or might have, that is up to the negotiators to talk about, if we have offered more than that.''

But the police union's chief negotiator, Robert W. Linn, said that the proposal put forward by the city would actually cost officers money because it called for concessions that the union calculated would result in an 8 percent reduction in pay. One of the concessions, for example, would require new officers to work an additional 10 shifts a year, Mr. Linn said.

''We have asked them to give us a salary proposal, and they have refused to give us one,'' Mr. Linn said.

In its own proposal, the police union has asked for a 39 percent salary increase over two years, which, according to the union's calculations, would bring officers to parity with officers in Newark. The starting salary for a New York City police officer is currently $31,305.

The talks between the union and the city are so splintered that the parties cannot agree on which agency would intervene to help mediate a settlement. The city has suggested that disputes be resolved by the city's Office of Collective Bargaining, but the union filed its notice of impasse with the state's Public Employment Relations Board.

The city is negotiating contracts with a variety of unions, including the United Federation of Teachers, District Council 37 and a coalition of uniformed services locals that includes the unions representing firefighters and correction officers. The P.B.A. has chosen to negotiate separately from the coalition, in part because it is seeking to break so-called pattern bargaining, in which the city generally offers its labor unions roughly the same percentage in raises.

The P.B.A. has said the city should award its members more because, it says, New York police wages have fallen far behind those paid in many other cities. But the administration contends that the wage comparisons do not take into account the benefit and pension packages that New York officers receive. "