August 15, 2017


Letter to the Editor: Illegal Collusion Against PBA

We are disappointed that The Chief-Leader, the self-proclaimed “Independent Voice of Civil Service,” would editorially accept (“Uniformed Sound and Fury,” Aug. 11 issue) with a wink and a nod the illegal collusion between the city’s labor negotiator and the Uniformed Superior Officers Coalition (USOC). Each city union should negotiate contract terms that seek to satisfy the unique needs of their members, while not encumbering the rights of other unions to negotiate a fair contract for their members. The Taylor Law, a law whose goal was to level the playing field for unions who are forbidden to strike, contemplates the payment of market wages to all police and fire groups in NYC. It took nearly a decade for unions who were at the mercy of the city’s management to enact legislation that gave them a fighting chance at fair negotiations.

Conspiring with the city in agreeing to seven years of wage increases (11 percent over 7 years) with zeroes for certain periods—as the USOC did—in order to keep the PBA from getting more is patently illegal. Beyond that, other local police groups have received 3 percent more on average than the USOC for the same period, and that shortcoming does not begin to take into account the misalignment with market pay from which NYC police officers already suffer.

You may be entitled to your opinion, but we are surprised that this publication so often toes management’s line. We would have hoped that The Chief would support fair negotiations under the Taylor Law and not the illegal, collusive arrangement that seeks to deny one class of employees the market rate of pay to which they are entitled by law. The “Independent Voice of Civil Service” should be supporting fair and equitable wages for the men and women who risk their lives to make this city safe and habitable.

President, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association

Editor’s reply: We were not offering a wink and a nod, merely an acknowledgement that a major component of the pattern-bargaining system for the past three decades has been the determination of the PBA to do better than the other unions and break free of the system, while those unions have looked to ensure that they do as well in bargaining as Mr. Lynch’s union.

His protestations of “illegal collusion” bring to mind the scene in “Casablanca” in which the chief of police announces that he is closing Rick’s Café because he is “shocked, shocked!” to discover that gambling is being conducted there, seconds before an employee hands him his “winnings” for looking the other way up until then.

Mr. Lynch didn’t originate the use of attrition-based bargaining that has created repeated headaches for other uniformed-union leaders; that took root under a prior PBA president, Phil Caruso, in tandem with Bob Linn, who at that time in 1988 held the same role as chief negotiator for Mayor Ed Koch as he does now under Mayor de Blasio. But Mr. Lynch was a party to reviving it under a 2005 arbitration with the administration of Mayor Mi­chael Bloomberg, and the impact on some of the other uniformed unions—which included at least one of their leaders being voted out of office—has ensured that those unions don’t want to defer to the PBA when it comes to reaching a contract, and agree to terms only when convinced that the city will not deviate from the pattern established once it ultimately settles with the PBA.

Roy Richter, the president of the Captains’ Endowment Association, alluded to the conflicting priorities of the coalition—which he chaired—and the PBA when he stated for a news article in last week’s issue, “Every organization negotiates contracts with the city that are in the best interests of their members, and the CEA is no different than any other union.”