The New York Times

May 15, 2004

State Finds Impasse in
Talks for Police Contract


TMhe New York State Public Employment Relations Board, the agency that has been handling contract negotiations between the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the city, said yesterday that talks between the two sides had reached an impasse.

Albert W. O'Leary, a spokesman for the association, which is the union for about 23,000 city police officers, said it had petitioned the state agency to declare an impasse to take the talks to the next step.

The city "is saying they can negotiate and we are saying they haven't been negotiating in good faith," Mr. O'Leary said.

The board's decision means "negotiations are at a stalemate." Salaries have been the subject of bitter debate between the union and the city. The union argues that officers deserve higher pay for often dangerous work, and the city says it cannot afford large increases.

The starting salary for a New York City police officer is $36,878. After six years, officers make $57,793. Mr. O'Leary said compensation for New York police officers ranks 145th out of a list of 200 American cities.

The board will now appoint a mediator to negotiate with both sides. If that fails, they will enter into an arbitration process, in which a panel of three people will hear testimony, consider evidence from both sides and return a judgment.

Edward Skyler, a spokesman for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, said, "We stand willing to continue negotiations" with the union. "However, we will work with a mediator to reach a settlement," Mr. Skyler said.

Two phone calls to the employee relations board's offices in Albany went unanswered last night.

The previous contract, which expired in June 2002, was reached through arbitration, Mr. O'Leary said. In that case, the process took about seven months, he added.