Staten Island Advance
September 22, 2008

City cops' pay to take quite a hike in new contract
17 percent raises are guaranteed in tentative, 4-year agreement

By PETER N. SPENCER

In a deal hailed as a historic win for New York's Finest, the city and police officers union tentatively agreed to a four-year contract that would guarantee 17 percent raises over four years, and boost rookie pay to $40,000, city officials announced yesterday.

Under terms of the new contract, an officer's maximum salary will jump to $76,488 -- compared to $65,382 under the current contract -- and total compensation to more than $91,000 before overtime.

The contract extension, if ratified by the 23,000 members of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA), will mark the first time the two sides have agreed to a deal without going through a state arbitration panel since 1994.

It also comes on the heels of an arbitration panel's ruling in May that gave the NYPD rank and file retroactive 4.5 percent and 5 percent raises for the years 2004-06, a decision made after years of harsh and often nasty negotiations between the two sides came to an impasse.

At the time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made it clear he wasn't happy with the arbitration panel's decision to break the city's previous pattern of raises, and claimed the new contract would poke a $1 billion hole in next year's budget. PBA President Patrick Lynch and other representatives said the pay boosts still didn't put their salaries on par with other police departments, and were upset officers had to use vacation days for required training at the shooting range.

Under the terms of the new deal, officers will be able to fulfill those shooting qualifications with paid working days. They also will receive three more vacation days each year; larger "longevity" bonuses every five years, and the city will provide contributions to the police retirement and health care funds commensurate with those pay raises.

In exchange, the PBA agreed to drop six lawsuits it has filed against the city.

At City Hall yesterday, Lynch called the new deal "historic and creative."

"I've never been shy to step on the steps of City Hall and say I didn't agree with something and I thought something was wrong. Well, I'm equally not as shy to stand inside City Hall and say when something is right. This is right, our members should be very proud of this contract, and I believe they will ratify this contract overwhelmingly," Lynch said at the press conference announcing the deal about an hour after it was signed.

Bloomberg said it will help the department attract "more top-quality candidates."

The city and police union closed the current deal in about three months, starting negotiations on May 20 -- a day after the arbitration panel made its decision, a spokesman for the PBA said. The contract is retroactive and covers the period Aug. 1, 2006-July 30, 2010.

Total compensation for officers after five and a half years, with bonuses, holiday pay, night shift differential and other additions would total $91,823, before overtime.

Despite the history of rough negotiations, Bloomberg said he had no hard feelings about them, and was always confident the deal could be struck without the aid of an outside agency.

"I've always thought the best deal is arrived at when people are across the table, and I've always thought that we could come to the table," Bloomberg said.

Lynch concurred, adding that he changed his tough stance when he finally saw numbers that he liked. "I'm sure we'll find something to fight about in the future," he quipped.

Peter N. Spencer covers City Hall for the Advance.