Mayor Bill de Blasio has forged a new bond with the dude who once called him a “nincompoop.”
The mayor and Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins have agreed on a roughly $252.1 million contract for the policemen that begins retroactively in 2011. The seven-year agreement, which will end in 2018, includes an immediate 4 percent raise. And it brings more than three-quarters of the city workforce under a contract, including all of New York City’s police unions — except for the largest one, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, run by notorious de Blasio–hater Patrick Lynch.
The mayor has dealt with months of strife from both police union leadership and the department’s rank and file. In December, after the officer accused of killing Eric Garner on Staten Island was not indicted, de Blasio expressed his condolences to Garner’s family and said he worried about the safety of his biracial son, Dante, around police.
Those comments, followed by the fatal shooting of two police officers in Brooklyn a month later, led to weeks of posturing by the PBA. Planes carrying anti-mayor signs flew across the city skyline; officers refused to arrest people for petty misdemeanors and turned their backs on de Blasio when he appeared at official functions, such as the funerals for the two slain officers.
At a January press conference on crime statistics, New York Police Department commissioner Bill Bratton attributed some of the cops’ low morale to “a lot going on in the department at this particular point in time that’s of concern to officers — contracts that the previous administration chose not to settle, this administration’s seeking very hard to settle.”
Today, with one more contract in the can, that morale seemed to be at a new high. Mullins celebrated the new relationship with de Blasio, saying the negotiation was a victory for “working [people] and families. I don’t think anyone should lose sight of that as we move forward; we’ll see a lot of happy sergeants out there.” Mullins refused to speculate on how the successful contract between sergeants and the city would affect the mayor’s relationship with the PBA, which represents rank-and-file police officers.
“I have family members I don’t speak to,” he said. “I’m not going to get into the mayor’s relationship with Pat Lynch.”
Rather than delving too far into criminal justice issues or the history of the city police unions’ beef with the mayor, de Blasio kept the emphasis on a favorite lefty issue: the importance of collective bargaining. “Unfortunately, this was a reality under the previous administration…so many employees, they worked without a contract,” he said.
De Blasio and Mullins said they expected to talk to each other about future concerns directly, like adults, instead of letting drama spiral out of control like they were at a seventh-grade slumber party. But they had no regrets about the media battles this winter.
“One of the most mature things a person can do is to agree to disagree,” said de Blasio. “I don’t regret anything. I believe everyone spoke the truth about what they felt. But I also honor anyone who says even though we have differences, we also have commonalities, and we’re going to focus on those commonalities.”
After being asked by a reporter if this was a “kiss and make up session,” the six-foot-five mayor even leaned down to envelop the significantly shorter union leader in an excruciatingly uncomfortable side hug. “I’ll put my arm around him,” de Blasio said. “That’ll be good enough.”