The Patrolman's Benevolent Association has filed for binding arbitration in their contract dispute with Mayor Bill de Blasio. The PBA issued a press release last week accusing the city of negotiating in bad faith. The city responded by charging the union with bad faith.
The PBA's only chance of winning at arbitration is if they can convince other municipal unions to let the PBA go first to set a pattern for raises for city workers in this round of bargaining. Pattern bargaining is when one municipal union settles with the city to set a pattern for raises or zeros. Other municipal unions then get the same settlement, although uniform unions often get 1% more than civilians. Pattern bargaining has been upheld by multiple arbitration panels over the decades.
We have expected the city to pick off a weak union like DC 37 to set the pattern. If DC37 resists, can a de Blasio phone call to UFT President Mulgrew be expected soon? The UFT settled first in 2014. Does Mulgrew have the sense to let the PBA go first?
For those who wish to contemplate what is on the table for the PBA from the city, just read part of the press release. Expect the UFT to get the same offer.
The City’s latest purported offer to NYC PBA members is the worst they have seen so far, featuring dramatic increases in out-of-pocket health benefit costs and other givebacks that would effectively wipe out the paltry wage increases they would receive. Among the City’s startling demands:
The health benefits reductions similar to those the de Blasio administration is seeking to obtain from the entire city workforce through the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC), including the imposition of new medical deductibles, as well as a tiered copayment structures intended to drive members to utilize City-run Health + Hospitals Corporation hospitals and their affiliated doctors. For example, members who utilize top-tier hospitals and their affiliated doctors instead of HHC facilities would see their hospital in-patient copayments increase from the current $300 to $3,000 and their primary care doctor and specialist co-payments increase from the current $15 to $40.
A 57% reduction in the City’s contributions to the PBA Health & Welfare Funds, which provide NYC PBA members with prescription drug coverage and other benefits. This move would result in dramatic reductions in or the complete elimination of benefits provided to PBA members.
The elimination of the PBA Annuity Fund for both current members and future hires.
Along with thes draconian givebacks, the de Blasio administration is demanding that NYC PBA members accept below-inflation raises totaling 3.25% over two years, including months of zero raises.
PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said:
“The supposedly ‘labor friendly’ de Blasio administration is following the corporate union-busting playbook by offering below-inflation raises and slashing health and pension benefits. The City’s repeated bad faith proposals made a mockery of the negotiation process and were an insult to New York City police officers, who are already paid grossly underpaid in comparison to police officers in other departments locally and across the country.