June 27, 2016, 10:50 am
By RICHARD STEIER
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association won a round in its war with the de Blasio administration that has drawn in the rest of the city labor movement when an Appellate Court Judge June 22 issued a temporary restraining order preventing the city from changing Police Officers’ health coverage as part of a money-saving accord reached two years ago with the Municipal Labor Committee.
The union sued contending that the MLC was not authorized to negotiate the efficiencies, which could increase member co-payments, among other measures, on behalf of the PBA. That figures to be an uphill battle, given that the MLC has been the designated agent for negotiating health-benefit changes for all the municipal unions for the past four decades, but the TRO prevents any action from being taken until the larger suit is adjudicated.
‘Major Rebuke to Mayor’
PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement, “The Appellate Court ruling is a major rebuke to Mayor de Blasio and his administration’s efforts to marginalize our Police Officers at every turn—this time by imposing additional health costs on officers without having the decency to go through the bargaining process with them.”
Labor Commissioner Robert W. Linn, who negotiated the health-benefits deal, declined comment, citing the ongoing litigation.
The MLC deal was disclosed at the same time that the first contract agreement reached by the Mayor—with the United Federation of Teachers—was announced May 1, 2014. The health-benefit savings that were to be included, which were decided in subsequent discussions with the MLC, were intended to save $3.4 billion over a seven-year period and offset some of the costs of the pay raises that the UFT and the unions that followed negotiated.
The PBA had signaled its displeasure with the UFT terms by filing a petition for a bargaining impasse with the state Public Employment Relations Board on the same day that accord was announced. Unlike the rest of the city labor movement, which adhered closely to that pattern, the PBA pursued arbitration in the hope of breaking it, only to be stymied by a ruling last November that provided two 1-percent increases that were consistent with what other uniformed unions accepted in the first two years of seven-year pacts.
Pay Talks At Standstill
The final five years of their contracts contain raises totaling 9 percent, something Mr. Lynch continues to maintain is unacceptable to his members. There has been no real progress in contract talks with the city in the wake of that award, meaning that at a time when virtually all other city unions are working under contracts that will not expire until next year at the earliest, Police Officers are working under a pact that expired on Aug. 1, 2012.
“Hopefully,” the PBA president said, “this ruling will curb some of the arrogance exhibited when it comes to this administration’s treatment of the men and women who keep our streets safe.”