Politico New York
11:47 a.m. | Nov. 4, 2015


Keeping with playbook, police union plans protest for maximum discomfort

By LAURA NAHMIAS AND GLORIA PAZMINO 

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
Lynch

Leaders of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the union representing 24,000 rank-and-file NYPD officers, are planning a protest Thursday outside the home of Howard Edelman, the New York State Public Employment Relations Board-appointed arbitrator leading negotiations with the city over their members' contracts.

The protest is intended to demonstrate members' displeasure with a draft contract widely circulated on Monday that would give officers 1 percent raises over two years.

The protest Thursday morning will take place outside of the "recently-acquired penthouse apartment of arbitrator Howard Edelman," the union announced in a release.

On Wednesday, the union placed an ad in the New York Post targeting Edelman, calling him “mister 1 %” and slamming his proposal to give officers 1 percent raises.

“With his fancy Upper East Side penthouse and Nantucket vaction spot Howard Edelman is the poster boy for the wealthy ‘one-percenters,’” the ad reads. “Guess what kind of raises he wants to give the lowest paid police officers in this area? - 1% a year and not a penny more!”

Thursday’s protest won’t be the first time PBA president Pat Lynch has taken to the streets in an effort to pressure the arbitrators for higher salary increases.

In 2002, as the union negotiated its contract through binding arbitration during Michael Bloomberg’s first year as mayor, Lynch waged an intense campaign to pressure arbitrators into a more favorable deal for his members.

That year, Bloomberg released details of the draft contract before it had been finalized, and Lynch responded by holding a protest rally in Times Square, with roughly 10,000 police and firefighters protesting for higher wages.

In an unusual maneuver, Lynch also threatened to sue the city over the draft contract that same year.

Lynch's tactics have worked out well for the union in the past. Lynch was able to break the pattern of raises other uniformed unions had already accepted, getting 5 percent increases over a two-year period. Members also received an extra, discretionary 1.5 percent.

Then, in 2004, as the union again met with the city to negotiate its contract, Lynch held a noisy protest at 1 a.m. outside then-Mayor-Michael Bloomberg’s Upper East Side townhouse.

Lynch also threatened that year that his members might picket at the Republican National Convention held in Manhattan, spotlighting the increasingly bitter dispute between union members and City Hall on primetime television.

That fight was less successful for Lynch and the union — in that round of negotiations, the union won 5 percent raises again for the period covering 2002-2004, but also agreed to lower the starting salaries for rookie officers to $25,100 annually, as a concession in exchange. That decision was later reversed because it was having a negative impact on NYPD recruiting efforts.

Because Edelman’s draft contract isn’t finalized yet, there may still be some room for both sides to negotiate before a binding decision in arbitration is reached before the end of the month.

A PBA official told POLITICO New York is expecting large crowds at Edelman’s penthouse on Thursday.

“It’s going to be early in the morning, and our members work for a living, many of them will probably come after their midnight tour,” the official said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has had a contentious relationship with the police union since taking office, has declined to comment directly on the draft contract, but said that the deal should follow the pattern set by negotiations with the other uniformed unions.