Mayor's Brave Face on Cop Raises

Fuzzy math on a big award for the Finest

New York City's cops just won a pretty juicy raise from a state arbitration board, but not according to City Hall. In a statement, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office says the 10 percent raise over two years is "consistent with the City's pattern for collective bargaining."

But if that pattern is the one set by the deal with District Council 37, the city's main civilian union, it's hard to see how the cops' award squares up. The first two years of DC37's latest contract involved a $1,000 lump sum payment one year and a 3 percent raise the next. The police get 5 percent and then 5 percent again.

According to City Hall, however, "the 10% increase is funded through 3.2% from the City-wide collective bargaining pattern, 5.5% from cost savings and productivity and an historic uniform differential." (The last term refers to the higher raises that cops, firefighters and sanitation workers normally receive compared to other city employees.) In other words, the cops are just getting what DC37 got, plus a bonus for being uniformed; they are paying for the rest themselves by working longer or different hours.

The question is whether the city's cost saving measures will add up. These include eliminating the personal day cops could claim each year and bringing the number of flexible days—when cops can work unusual shifts without receiving overtime— to 15 per year. Rookies will also make less dough.

The Citizens Budget Commission has crunched the numbers, and tells the Voice that they add up to $43 million in savings, or about 1.25 percent of the 10 percent raise, not 5.5 percent as City Hall asserts. That means the cops' award is a good measure higher than DC37's raise. "I think the City had argued vociferously that the pattern should hold," says CBC deputy research director Elizabeth Lynam, "and this is a refutation of that argument."

But the mayor has pretty strong incentive to deny that the cops are getting raises out of step with the pattern.

For one thing, admitting otherwise would mean that the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association won, and since his Democratic rivals love to tout Bloomberg's losses, he can't do that.

For another, if the mayor acknowledges that the pattern was broken here, it makes it tougher for him to tell other unions to stick to it in future contract talks. As it is, the police settlement announced today covers a two-year contract that expired almost a year ago.


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