Staten Island Advance
September 6, 2002

Cops get contract, but little is settled

Pact providing 11.5 percent pay hike and no extra tours is already expired and new talks must begin


City cops finally have a new contract — a deal that gives them less money and fewer tours than the mayor had proposed and expired before it even took effect.

An independent arbitration panel gave cops an 11.5-percent increase over two years.

Now both sides are seeking to portray the facts to their advantage, although the police union supports the deal and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg opposes it.

The pact is essentially the same "collective bargaining pattern" the union could have accepted a year ago, Bloomberg said. But union officials trumpeted the deal as a break with the pattern — the raise is larger because it's spread out over 24 months instead of 30, which would have been in keeping with the pattern.

Bloomberg had offered a 13.5-percent raise, but union officials said they'd rather forgo the extra 2 percent because it came with strings attac%%head%% Although cops would work 20 minutes less each day, they'd be required to put in 10 extra shifts over the course of the year.

"Our cops were literally up in arms over the prospect of reporting to work an extra 10 days," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association spokesman Al O'Leary. "They were furious."

The new contract will cost the city an extra $228 million, according to Jordan Barowitz, a Bloomberg spokesman. It runs from Aug. 1, 2000, to July 31, 2002, meaning cops are still without a current contract.

The union will go into new talks with its own ideas about improving efficiency, O'Leary said. "We are told today that the mayor said he wants to pay police officers more while improving their productivity," he said. "We'll see if the mayor means that."

Bloomberg revealed the arbitrator's decision yesterday at City Hall, after unveiling details of a new Web site that will provide information about Lower Manhattan development.

"The PBA, for reasons I don't understand, chose to take less money," Bloomberg said. "They lost the opportunity to do better than the pattern."

He said the city would not sign the deal, but O'Leary said the PBA signed the ruling yesterday morning, which would give it the force of law.

Bloomberg said there's no question cops deserve more money, but the city's $5 billion deficit means no worker should expect to receive more money without taking on extra work.

Cops had asked for a 23-percent raise, similar to the amount the city recently awarded to teachers, who will work an extra 20 minutes a day in return. The PBA argued that boost would put them on par with suburban peers.

The city offered 14 percent, but only on condition that cops take the extra 10 tours. The union balked, and instead agreed to the 11.5-percent raise over two years.

"This is significant because it is a pattern-breaking deal," said PBA president Patrick Lynch. "Although New York City police officers deserve much much more, this does recognize that they're different than other workers and puts us on the road to fixing the salary structure."

The decision was reached through binding arbitration by the state's Public Employment Relations Board. Cops surrender none of their existing benefits to get the pay hike, said O'Leary.

The agreement "could well impact" firefighter contract negotiations, O'Leary added. The city has also offered the Uniformed Firefighters Association an 11.5 percent raise over 30 months. The union had been waiting for the results of the police contract negotiations before deciding whether to ratify its own contract.