August 18, 2016, 4:28 PM
BY BOB LINN
|PBA President Patrick Lynch at a police graduation (BRYAN SMITH/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)|
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association is once again seeking contract arbitration. In fact, this police union has resorted to arbitration six times since 1990 — coming to an agreement with the city just twice during that time. They chose arbitration with Mayors Dinkins, Giuliani, Bloomberg and now de Blasio. Each time, the PBA has argued that salaries are uncompetitive, turnover is high and morale is low.
So once again, the union’s president, Pat Lynch, is leading the PBA back into contract arbitration — this time seeking to achieve increases beyond those already agreed to by the unions representing NYPD detectives, sergeants, lieutenants and captains.
This week, the Daily News published an op-ed by Lynch seeking to justify his decision to not reach a voluntary settlement similar to those reached by these 12,000 other New York City unionized detectives and police superior officers.
Since receiving an arbitration decision consistent with the increases received by the other police unions last year, the PBA has responded by:
protesting at the arbitrator’s home;
filing a claim with the American Arbitration Association, which was roundly rejected;
refusing to pay the arbitrator his fee, as required by law;
attempting to disavow a health savings agreement negotiated between the city and the Municipal Labor Committee (of which the PBA is a member.)
Here are the facts: NYC pays police very well, and will continue to do so under the city’s contract proposal. Because of their generous package of benefits and wages, it costs the city more than $200,000 for each police officer every year — among the highest in the nation.
Under the same terms as the contracts reached by all the other New York City police unions, an officer with five-and-a-half years of city service will receive more than $100,000 in pay (including base salary, longevity, uniform allowance, holiday pay, and extra compensation for working the night shift) — and this does not include overtime pay commonly received by police officers.
In addition, it costs the city another $100,000 per year to pay for the cost of our police officers’ benefits: active and retiree health benefits; a pension at half pay after 20 or 22 years (depending on date of hire); a supplemental pension benefit providing an additional $12,000 per year.
Frequently, an officer achieves five-and-a-half years of experience in their late 20s or early 30s. At that point, the officer will be receiving over $200,000 per year in salary and benefits-hardly inadequate compensation.
Lynch states that this compensation is inadequate. In fact, the total cost of NYPD officers’ salaries and benefits ranks third among officers in the 20 largest cities in the nation, and almost 50% above the average. Turnover is at very low levels; the City had no problem hiring more than 2,700 police officers in 2015 and more than 2,000 so far in 2016, drawing from a pool of more than 17,000 people on civil service lists hoping to land an NYPD job.
Under the City's proposal, police officers would immediately receive average back pay of around $7,000 in annual base salary alone, and total rate increases of 9.3% (an $8,400 increase in pay). The City's proposal is fair to police officers represented by the PBA, fair to the four other NYPD police unions that have already settled, and fair to the taxpayer who has to pay the bill.
Linn is the commissioner of the NYC Office of Labor Relations.