New York Daily News

 Updated: January 22, 2016, 7:24 PM

  

 

Arbitrator who ruled on NYPD's small pay raise defended by colleagues

BY GRAHAM RAYMAN

Arbitrator Howard Edelman earned $115,000 for the 29 days he worked to hash out a 100-page decision to give cops two 1% raises over two years.

Call it the revenge of the nerds.

The usually tight-lipped community of arbitrators is furious at what it says is a "public lynching" of their colleague Howard Edelman by the city’s largest police union.

Edelman ruled in favor of the city in their high-profile contract dispute with the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

Patrick Lynch, the head of the PBA, has called Edelman a "1%er” and had about 1,000 officers picket Edelman's Lenox Hill penthouse. He created ads depicting him as a puppet of Mayor de Blasio and said the arbitrator was "hopelessly compromised."

The PBA got 1% raises over two years. They wanted 4%. Mayor de Blasio has said Lynch shouldn’t argue with the outcome since he’s the one who chose to seek arbitration.

Lynch piled on this week, saying Edelman accepting two other city arbitrations during the hearings was a "clear conflict of interest."

All this has the buttoned-down arbitrators in an uproar.

"It's character assassination," Allen Ponak, president of the National Academy of Arbitrators, said Friday. "It was a public lynching. I have a problem when the integrity of the person is attacked."

A veteran arbitrator added: "What they are doing isn't American. The message they are sending is if you don't rule in our favor, we'll do this to you."

This arbitrator called Edelman "the most ethical, smartest man I know.

"In his 35 year career, he's never had a single attack on his ethics until now," he said.

"It's wrong to picket somebody's home for doing their job," said Melissa Biren, a Maplewood, N.J.-based arbitrator. "Certainly it sends a message to arbitrators. Most would simply not undertake the work, because why would you want to subject yourself to that."

BRYAN R. SMITH/BRYAN R. SMITH
PBA President Patrick Lynch spoke out against arbitrator Howard Edelman after the judge ruled against NYPD officers.

Lynch, not to be deterred, responded to the arbitrator’s criticisms by filing an ethics complaint Friday against Edelman with the national arbitrator’s group.

“Arbitrators who value the integrity of their profession should be outraged at Edelman's blatant disregard for the facts in evidence,” the union leader said.

Edelman should have made more than the $115,000 for his 46 days of work on the dispute, another arbitrator said.

"If I said to you you were responsible for making a decision on something that is worth billions, and we're going to pay you $115,000, I think you would say that's not fair," he said.

Rank-and-file cops told The News they were outraged at the amount of money the arbitrator made.

If Edelman had given cops a better deal than, say, firefighters, it would have crippled labor relations in the city, his supporters argue.

"If they had broken the pattern, everyone else would have gone crazy," he said. "There is not an arbitrator who would have ruled differently."

The News reported Friday that Edelman ended a June 22 hearing an hour early so he could go to a Lady Gaga concert, according to sources. He also was selected for two other city arbitrations while hearing the PBA case.

Edelman declined to comment, but a fellow arbitrator confirmed he did go to the concert.

"Who cares?" the arbitrator asked, adding that Edelman often worked late on the case.

Edelman may have gone to see Lady Gaga, but he cancelled a chance to see the Mets in the World Series in order to work on the dispute, the arbitrator said.