The gains we've made come from our unity E-mail
Written by Patrick J. Lynch   

Without having to resort to binding arbitration, we settled a contract – covering from Aug. 1, 2006 to July 31, 2010 that benefits New York City police officers in many ways: four years of 4 percent salary increases, longevity and health-and-welfare escalators tied to every future raise, additional increased longevity and health-and-welfare payments, restored benefits and other quality-of-life improvements – all without givebacks. And who deserves the credit for these achievements?

The New York City police officer, the PBA member, that’s who. It’s thanks to them that in the last ten years their salaries have increased by 57 percent. It’s because they remained loyal to the cause, because they stood by the PBA and their fellow members through all those years of painstaking effort, including a long court battle to prove our claim that the state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) was the constitutionally correct agency to arbitrate our contract impasses, long years of working without a contract, numerous city Office of Collective Bargaining (OCB) and state PERB arbitrations, diligent efforts to inform the public of the unfairness of our pay, and unrelenting onslaughts by the city and the editorial writers in its thrall.

There is no precedent in New York City history for this degree of labor resolve. While I have always said that the best way to get a contract is at the bargaining table, until this round the city had been unwilling to move on issues important to our members. This time, the atmosphere changed and the agreement contains some truly unprecedented components designed to secure the union’s and the membership’s long-term health.

We have also been able to add significantly to the health-and-welfare funds, particularly for retirees, which will go a long way toward securing the retirement payments and benefits coming to all of us long into the future. With this settlement, we have increased a police officer’s basic maximum salary by over 55 percent, compounded, since the current PBA administration took office and added thousands of dollars into longevity payments, a significant step toward restoring our pay structure to market value – although by no means yet achieving that worthy goal.

The contract helps, in part, to make up for the 1990s, a decade that brought us just over 20 percent in increases. At any rate, we have gone from a top pay of $49,023 to $76,488. When longevity, holiday pay, night-shift differential and uniform allowance are added, total average compensation at top pay at the end of the contract (July 31, 2010) will be about $94,000. It’s important to remember that all this is thanks to NYPD PBA members.

It’s thanks to them that they have been entitled to retroactive paychecks going back to Aug. 1, 2006, that will average more than $8,000 for those at top pay. Their steadfastness and solidarity in supporting their union’s efforts in demonstrations, advertising campaigns and other public-consciousness-raising efforts made all this possible. And, finally, it’s thanks to them that this contract was ratified by an amazing 99.4 percent margin.

This show of unity will stand New York City’s PBA members in good stead in future challenges.

Patrick J. Lynch is the president of the PBA of New York City.

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