The ongoing tension between New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s biggest police union continues to grow after the mayor’s recent apparent victor in labor negotiation. The arbitrator recommended a 1% raise in each of the two years from August 2010 to July 2012 for the members of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, a draft award that closely matched deals made with other unions.
Union members argued police officers deserved higher raises than other city employees because they faced greater on-the-job dangers. The average NYC police officer currently earns about $76,000 before overtime pay. “That’s our blood on the streets”, said union president Patrick Lynch at a support rally near the arbitrator’s home.
Mayor de Blasio is hoping this win will encourage other unions to settle their contracts, but city officials also understand the fight looks bad for the mayor’s office and worsens the already tenuous relationship the mayor has with police officers. In recent months, the mayor has shifted his rhetoric from criticizing their behavior in minority communities to offering new bulletproof vests and iPads for officers.
Union officials stated in response to the arbitrator’s ruling that they might file a lawsuit if the arbitrator is unwilling to come back with a better deal than the draft. The union chose arbitration lawyer when they were unable to reach a labor agreement with the city. Officials want city officers pay in line with the Port Authority Police Department, as opposed to other city workers. The mayor stated giving officers salary increases that other uniformed groups do not receive is unfair.