New York Daily News

March 31, 2016, 5:25 PM



Arbitrators vow to stop handling labor disputes involving NYPD’s biggest union as retaliation for PBA ‘bullying’ mediator


PBA honcho Patrick Lynch (pictured) led a rally outside the home of mediator Howard Edelman in November. Now 27 arbitrators have struck back by vowing to stop working with the union.

“The arbitrators strike back.

Twenty-seven of the men and women who resolve labor disputes have signed a letter saying they won’t handle cases involving the city’s largest police union.

They are angry at Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch for his repeated attacks on mediator Howard Edelman, who decided the union’s most recent contract dispute in favor of the city late last year.

Seventeen of the signers are on the state’s public contract arbitration panel and are eligible to serve if the new round of PBA negotiations with the city ends in an impasse.

Carol Wittenberg, a signer of the letter and a former member of the city’s Board of Collective Bargaining, called the move unprecedented.

“Arbitrators are used to parties complaining about them, but to picket somebody's home, to carry a coffin with his name and photo on it, they just crossed the line,” she said.

In addition to having off-duty cops picket Edelman’s Lenox Hill penthouse home, Lynch called him a “one percenter” and attacked his integrity and his objectivity.

The arbitrators wrote in a letter that the PBA 'crossed the line' by picketing outside a mediator's home.

His union also created ads depicting him as a puppet of Mayor de Blasio and saying he was “hopelessly compromised.”

The arbitrators’ March 24 letter called the attacks “reprehensible.”

The PBA is angry at mediator Howard Edelman for his ruling on their labor contract.     

"The undersigned arbitrators wish to express zero tolerance for bullying or the public vilification of any arbitrator," the letter said.

“We will NOT work with the NYC PBA on any arbitration case.”

The move was first reported by the Chief-Leader newspaper.

“The letter demonstrates the degree of anger of a group of leading arbitrators at the PBA's response to the arbitration award, especially the picketing of the arbitrator's residence,” said Allen Ponak, of the National Academy of Arbitrators.

“Eventually the arbitration community and the PBA will need to make peace because the quality of workplace justice matters.”

On Thursday, Lynch continued to hammer at Edelman.

“This union did nothing more than point out the unethical behavior of Mr. Edelman,” he said. “We will continue to exercise our First Amendment right to denounce it.”

Lynch said he is waiting for the outcome of an ethics complaint he filed against Edelman with Ponak’s association in January.

Dennis Nielsen, an Illinois-based arbitrator who chairs the association’s complaint board, declined to comment on the status of the complaint.