Staten Island Advance
April 23, 2008

PBA's move infuriates Mayor Bloomberg

Union promises to list job vacancies 'from better paying police departments'

By SALLY GOLDENBERG

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The union representing rank-and-file police officers, which is embroiled in a withering contract dispute with the city, announced yesterday it stands ready to help its members find higher-paying jobs in other departments.

The revelation infuriated Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association promised to list job vacancies "from better paying police departments" in its in-house quarterly magazine, New York's Finest, and on its Web site.

"It is difficult to describe the level of anger and frustration among New York's veteran police officers who need only look over the border or across the river to find other police departments that pay $20,000 to $40,000 a year more at top pay," PBA president Patrick Lynch said in a prepared statement.

Bloomberg branded the union's move a "disgrace" and faulted the PBA for the $25,100 starting salary blamed for recruiting troubles by city officials.

"Keep in mind the low salaries that our police officers get for the first six months, and really for the first five years, are because the PBA wanted that so that they could move more monies to the more senior people in the agency," Bloomberg told reporters.

"To go out and to hurt the city that they supposedly love and. ... You know, I don't think that that represents the view of 99.999 percent of the police officers who dedicate their lives every day to protecting the city. I think that is an insult to them," he continued.

City police officers have been working without a contract since 2004.

Last year, Bloomberg's administration offered the union a $37,800 starting salary, and maximum pay of $63,309 for officers after five and a half years, compared to the current $59,588 ceiling.

The union refused the deal, arguing in part that the offer for senior members was too low to compete with other departments throughout the country.

Earlier this month, the Seattle Police Department paid for a recruiting billboard along the West Side Highway and ads on bus shelters. The West Coast force pays recruits $47,334 and officers make $67,045 after six years.

A three-person panel overseeing arbitration between the city and the union has heard the evidence and testimony and will make a decision, but its deadline is unclear.

"It can take months; it can take hours; it can take weeks. There's no deadline, there's no clock," union spokesman Al O'Leary said.

In the meantime, the NYPD is having trouble recruiting and continues to shrink its allotted head count to save money.

In his budget address this year, Bloomberg said the city is budgeting for 1,000 fewer officers for fiscal year 2009, bringing the number down to 36,800.

Sally Goldenberg covers City Hall for the Advance. She may be reached at goldenberg@siadvance.com.