New York Daily News

August 19, 2016

  

 

Earlier this week, the Daily News published an op-ed from Pat Lynch discussing Mayor de Blasio's decision to give "competitive wages" to his own staff while refusing to do the same for New York City police officers.

Labor Relations Commissioner Bob Linn has now responded with his own online op-ed, which contains many of the misrepresentations and distortions regarding police pay that the City has consistently repeated since the current mayoral administration took office.

To correct the record, Lynch has sent the following letter to the Daily News:

Correcting Labor Commissioner Linn's Distortions on PBA Member Pay

To the Editor:

“New York City police salaries are a laughingstock; throughout the nation everyone knows that city cops are underpaid.”

Those are the words of the PBA’s lawyer, advocating for fair salaries during contract negotiations with the City. But the words aren’t from yesterday, or even this year. They’re from 2002, and the lawyer was Bob Linn.

If you read yesterday’s Daily News op-ed by Bob Linn, now the City’s Labor Commissioner, which responded to our op-ed from earlier in the week, you would think he has a case of amnesia.

His op-ed gets it wrong from the very first sentence. The PBA is not “once again seeking contract arbitration.”  What we have sought, for the last 16 years that this PBA administration has been in office, is to continue to move New York City police officers towards a competitive, market-based wage that is commensurate with the uniquely difficult and dangerous work they do. We would much prefer to do that with a negotiated agreement, as we did with the Bloomberg administration in 2008, but that can only happen when we have a willing partner on the other side of the bargaining table.

Bob also said yesterday that “NYC pays police very well” and questioned our assertion that the below-market wage has a damaging effect on morale, recruitment and retention. The fact is this has consistently been true, and the situation has only gotten worse over the past two-and-a-half years. Almost 90% of PBA members say they would leave for a better paying job if they had the opportunity. Is Bob Linn suggesting that our members don’t know how they feel?

Of course not, because he used to agree with them. When Bob was the PBA’s lawyer New York City police officers were, in his words, laughably paid an average of 21% less than police officers in comparable local jurisdictions, and about 14% less than police officers in other large cities. Today, using the same methodology that he developed for the PBA back then, PBA members are underpaid by about 33% in comparison to their local counterparts, and 34% in comparison to other big city cops.

This disparity has only gotten worse, and yet Bob now says that the City pays cops very well? How does he justify his reversal?

First, he refuses to adjust for New York City’s extraordinarily high cost of living when comparing salaries and benefits here with those in other cities. Every New Yorker who has struggled to find affordable housing or pay a grocery bill in this city knows that a dollar does not go as far here as it does in El Paso, Texas, for example. Furthermore, when he says each cop’s “generous package of benefits and wages” costs the City $200,000 a year, he’s simply playing with the numbers – conflating costs and benefits, and including costs such as the Medicare tax, which every employer pays and from which police officers derive no benefit whatsoever.

Bob knows that, too. When he represented the PBA in its 2002 arbitration, he said that comparing police pay and benefits in cities like New York and Los Angeles to the unadjusted figures from El Paso and other cities was “almost absurd.”  But now that he works for a mayoral administration that has made income inequality its signature issue, he and his team insist that New York City police officers’ salaries are “pretty respectable” in comparison to the unadjusted salaries of police officers in El Paso.

So either Bob has forgotten his comments in support of fair pay for police officers, or worse, he has done an about face – ignoring basic economics and facts – because it’s politically expedient. Either way, his words are an affront to the women and men who protect our streets every day and yet are forced to do so on a below-market salary. Our cops – and all New Yorkers – deserve better from their city leaders.

Sincerely,
 
Patrick J. Lynch
President