|June 2, 2016 at 1:30 PM|
By Anna Sanders
CITY HALL -- The city's largest police union is spending upwards of $1 million on a televised campaign to shame Mayor Bill de Blasio into backing higher salaries for cops.
The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association put out two ads in recent weeks to demonstrate how police officers and their families can't afford to live in the city. Exactly how much they cost is unclear -- the union would simply say the campaign was "seven figures."
"As you look at the the faces of the families of police officers, you can see just how much they are impacted by the lack of pay and support from this administration," PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement about the second ad, "Families," which began running on broadcast and cable stations on Tuesday.
"Families" didn't feature any police officers in uniform, and neither did another PBA spot called "Jennifer." That ad centered on a cop's wife describing her family's struggles living on an NYPD officer's salary.
"The Mayor talks about protecting the families of working New Yorkers, but when it comes to the wives, husbands, children, and partners of our police officers, he turns a blind eye," Lynch said in a statement.
The PBA's campaign comes after state contract arbitrator last year ruled in favor of the city, giving officers a 1 percent retroactive raise for 2011 and 2012.
Lynch wouldn't make himself available to speak about the television ads.
A union spokesman said that the public campaign is an attempt to sway de Blasio as negotiations for a new contract continue behind the scenes at City Hall.
"We are hoping that Mayor has an epiphany and practices what he preaches about income equality," PBA spokesman Al O'Leary said.
The PBA said that NYPD officers on average make 34 percent less than others locally and nationally. The city's own analysis concluded that they make 146 percent of the average salary for police in big U.S. cities.
The union argues that the cost of living in NYC is much higher than other places and that the city's numbers include fringe benefits.
"Did you ever try to buy a loaf of bread with your benefits?" O'Leary said.
Without benefits, the city's analysis found NYPD officers make 111 percent of the average pay of officers in large cities across the country. With benefits, the city spent an average of $178,690 for each officer in June 2015.
THE MAYOR'S VIEW
The de Blasio administration has argued that pay raises for police should match those given to other city workers.
"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," de Blasio spokeswoman Monica Klein said.
If the PBA took the pattern other law enforcement unions took, officers would have gotten a 11 percent raise over a seven-year contract. The union thinks this would be unacceptable because the pattern allows for six months without a raise.
"When the hall gives you that 'our door is always open' crap, ask them if they are willing to pay police officers any more than pattern," O'Leary said.
OTHER UNIFORMED UNIONS
In response, city officials noted that it's an established pattern every other uniformed union took.
The PBA chose to go into arbitration during the last round of negotiations, though O'Leary said that Lynch would prefer to wrangle with City Hall directly.
The first three PBA contracts made under Lynch were through binding arbitration. In those, the union was given more than the pattern and members got retroactive pay. Lynch and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg negotiated a 4-percent raise for cops with retroactive pay. The most recent arbitration brought the contract up to August 2012.
Last year's decision prompted police protests in front of the arbitrator's home, as well as Gracie Mansion, where de Blasio lives.
The PBA represents some 24,000 officers, including about 3,500 who live on Staten Island.