The New York Times

May 19, 2006

Bloomberg Criticizes Police Union on Contract


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg faulted the police union today in the latest dispute over contract negotiations, calling the union's leaders "a little bit duplicitous" in criticizing the low starting pay for police officers.

A day after his administration proposed raising salaries for new police recruits, Mayor Bloomberg charged that the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association — and not the city — was actually to blame for the low starting salaries. He said union leaders had chosen to push for raises for those in the union already, at the expense of new recruits in the last contract.

"They were very critical of not paying a lot of money for the newer recruits, even though they engineered it — it's a little bit duplicitous but that's what they did," Mr. Bloomberg said on his weekly radio program on WABC-AM. "And now here's a chance for them to rectify it and we'll see what they say."

Mr. Bloomberg also suggested that the union's leaders had "orchestrated" the current salary structure to get more money for the union members who voted for the leadership, rather than getting raises for the new recruits who did not yet have a say in union politics.

"Now, of course, the management of the union has the problem that these guys are there and they're going to be voting in the next election so they're going to get themselves more and more into a big problem here," the mayor said.

Under the administration's proposal, new academy cadets would be paid at an annual rate of $36,123 for the first six months, instead of $25,100, and then at a rate of $39,735, instead of $32,700. The base salary would increase each year until hitting $63,309 after five and a half years, up from $59,588.

To help pay for the increases, the new officers would receive reduced benefits in some areas, such as fewer vacation days and paid holidays and less money toward their retirement until they have served a minimum period of time.

While union leaders have not rejected the offer outright, they have characterized it as inadequate. In recent months, union leaders have repeatedly criticized the starting pay level for police officers, saying that it is well below those in surrounding areas.

Patrick J. Lynch, the union president, rejected the mayor's contention that the union was responsible for the low salaries.

"Bloomberg is using the salesman's theory that if you repeat a lie enough, people will believe it," Mr. Lynch said today. "Reduced starting salary for police officers was in the city's demands from day one. They wanted it, testified for it and the arbitrator gave it to them and now they have to live with it. If anyone is being duplicitous, it's the mayor."