Politico New York

5:32 a.m. | Apr. 12, 2016

PBA mailer connects diversity to low pay hike


Lynch AP Photo/Seth Wenig

A politically charged new mailer from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association asserts that as the New York Police Department has become more diverse, pay hikes for officers have gone down.

The mailer is being sent to 35,000 “progressive households,” in Park Slope, Crown Heights, the Upper West Side and Jamaica, Queens, according to a spokesman for the union.

One side of the mailer shows a black-and-white photograph of police officers, all of them white men. “When NYC cops all looked like this, they were the highest paid force in the country,” the mailer said. On the reverse is a color photograph of an African-American man and an Asian woman, in uniform. “Now that NYC cops look like this, we are among the lowest paid police officers in the country,” the ad says. “How’s that for inequality?”

The ad connects two of de Blasio’s biggest strengths — his focus on income inequality and the growing diversity of the NYPD — to boost the PBA’s argument that a 1 percent pay hike is unfair.

At a graduation ceremony for new police officers on April 1, de Blasio touted the historic level of diversity of the class, noting in his speech to graduates that "53 percent of you are men and women of color. And 32 percent of you are Latino. That is the all-time high in the history of the NYPD."

That diversity is now being added to the union's argument for a larger pay hike.

PBA president Pat Lynch said in a prepared statement, “What’s especially troubling is the NYPD has become a more diverse department, but the gap in pay has only grown wider. This needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed now.”

Amy Spitalnik, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, said, “Our door has always been — and continues to be — open to the PBA to negotiate a long-term contract, as we’ve done with nearly the entire city workforce to date.”

The 1 percent pay hike was the result of a 2015 decision from the New York State Public Employment Relations Board, which arbitrated the contract dispute between the union and City Hall. The negotiation ended up with PERB because Lynch refused to accept City Hall’s earlier offer, which, in the past, he was able to improve by going to arbitration.

According to figures provided by City Hall, the average salary for police officers with 20 years experience in New York City is $83,976. That is higher than salaries paid to officers in cities like Austin ($82,155), Baltimore ($65,624), Detroit ($46,780), Philadelphia ($73,065) and Washington, D.C. ($75,649), but lower than Chicago ($85,597), Los Angeles ($85,547), San Francisco ($119,098) and San Jose ($105,293).

A union spokesman noted that the salaries alone do not take into account the higher cost of living in the New York area.