The city’s largest police union is armed with a big gun for its contract beef with the city.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association announced Wednesday it’ll be represented by veteran negotiator Kenneth Feinberg in an upcoming binding arbitration fight with City Hall.
PBA President Pat Lynch. (HOWARD SIMMONS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
“This choice is an extremely important one,” PBA President Pat Lynch said. “Probably one of the most important choices we make in this process.”
“We need an advocate in this process who has not only broad shoulders and a sharp legal mind, but also a human understanding of what’s at stake for police officers, our families and our city,” he said.
Feinberg, widely recognized as a master negotiator, served as Special Master for the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, and was hired by Penn State University in 2012 to settle dozens of personal injury claims stemming from the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.
He’s also served as a court-appointed settlement master in cases regarding Agent Orange product liability, asbestos personal injury litigation — and at one point was part of a three-member arbitration panel to determine the fair market value of the slow-motion Zapruder film of former President Kennedy’s assassination.
Feinberg will be part of a three-person state arbitration panel representing the PBA in upcoming negotiations, which could take about a year to complete.
“When it comes right down to compensating the police for their service to the city and the nation and the world, I must say that I think that is a very important assignment that is now on my shoulders and it will be a challenge,” Feinberg said.
“I will be disappointed in this process if we don’t reach a mutually satisfactory result. That is always the goal in order for the result to be lasting.”
The PBA called for binding arbitration in March after months of stalled talks with City Hall. The union and the city are fighting over a two-year contract spanning from last Aug. 1 through July 31, 2019.
As negotiations soured, Lynch last month blasted the de Blasio administration for “Draconian givebacks” in its latest contract offer, which Lynch said would’ve triggered “dramatic increases in out-of-pocket health benefit costs.”
“The city’s repeated bad-faith proposals made a mockery of the negotiation process and were an insult to New York City police officers, who are already grossly underpaid in comparison to police officers in other departments locally and across the country,” Lynch said at the time.
Although Lynch has repeatedly pushed for binding arbitration during his tenure as union president, he was furious with the outcome of the last contract arbitration case, in 2015, which gave members a paltry 1% raise a year.
Lynch then claimed state arbitrator Howard Edelman threw the PBA under the bus in exchange for more business from the city.
About 1,000 cops protested outside Edelman’s Upper East Side home in November 2015, and the union refused to pay his bill.
In response, 27 arbitrators wrote to the Public Employment Relations Board asking to be taken off any future PBA contract talks.