Mulgrew chose his words quite carefully in keeping in the spirit of these sad last few days for the city. However, two other labor leaders--Patrick Lynch, President of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and Ed Mullins--head of the Sergeant's Benevolent Association--have been anything but careful in their rhetoric the last several months and that continued Saturday in the aftermath of the tragedy.
It is quite reasonable to ask why these two union heads in particular are at war with Mayor Bill de Blasio. Has the mayor really thrown cops under the bus as Lynch claimed?
From CBS NY, here is the part from the mayor that prompted one of the PBA head's major explosions:
The mayor said he and his wife, Chirlane, have had to have painful conversations with their teenage son, Dante, about "how to take special care with any encounter he may have with police officers."
"I've had to worry over the years, Chirlane has had to worry: Is Dante Safe each night?" De Blasio said Wednesday (December 3). "And not just from some of the painful realities of crime and violence of our neighborhoods but safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors."
This statement was made after a grand jury on Staten Island declined to indict a cop for the killing of Eric Garner this past summer, even though the coroner ruled the death a homicide. The mayor attempted to walk a tightrope on the issue. For the past few weeks, he has been encouraging people opposed to the grand jury decision in the Garner case to stay peaceful as they protest while not trying to further inflame the police union leaders.
Normally, the fiery rhetoric from the union heads would have eventually calmed down but Mullins and Lynch have been relentless in their non-stop attacks on the mayor. Their criticism was especially harsh on Saturday when Lynch claimed the mayor and others had blood on their hands after the cold blooded murders of officers Liu and Ramos. Many people have seen the video of the police turning their backs on de Blasio at the hospital. There is even a petition calling for de Blasio to resign. In response, the normally pro-police Daily News editorial page opined how Lynch and Mullins went too far in blaming the mayor for Saturday's killings.
It is interesting to note how we are not hearing much criticism of City Hall from the Lieutenants' Benevolent Association or the Captain's Endowment Association leaders. There has been no call for de Blasio to resign or talk of blood on the mayor's hands from these police unions. Could it be because higher ranking officers already have a new labor contract with the city while the PBA and SBA remain somewhat isolated without one?
The Daily News was on top of this story last week as the PBA leader looked like he was encouraging a work to rule slowdown. Here are Lynch's words:
“If we won’t get support when we do our jobs, if we’re going to get hurt for doing what’s right, then we’re going to do it the way they want it,” (Lynch) said.
“He is not running the city of
The PBA denied they were calling for a work rule slowdown but a source confirmed that this is exactly what police officers are being encouraged to do and I heard a similar story on the radio yesterday afternoon.
This is a trade union blog that is usually strong in its support of unions. In this situation, however, I have real doubts if the PBA can win a contract with a much bigger salary increase than their supervisors got because of the dreadful pattern the UFT set last spring for this round of collective bargaining for city employees. The pattern is 10% total over 7 years. Other city public employee unions are now stuck with this pattern for themselves based on many decades of precedent.
At the time of the UFT settlement, SBA President Mullins stated that Mulgrew was out of his mind for accepting such a meager increase. Recently, eleven uniform supervisory unions, including the police, marginally beat the UFT pattern by getting 11% over 6 years and 7 months.
A raise in this ballpark will leave NYPD officer pay rates below what Nassau, Suffolk and Port Authority police earn. Yes, the city has a surplus, but I still don't see how it will be easy for the PBA to smash pattern bargaining, even with a job action and an in your face political strategy against the mayor.
When the dust settles after binding arbitration, there are likely to be many bitter PBA and SBA members who believe they deserve a huge raise that they are being denied. They will then probably take their anger out on the mayor in the 2017 election. Eva Moskowitz (or someone similar) can form a robust alliance of charter school hedge funders with their deep pockets and cops.
This will almost certainly have the effect of pulling the UFT closer to the mayor which in turn means the de Blasio-Farina way of running the schools that I call "Bloomberg lite" will continue for the foreseeable future. Anyone who expects the UFT to be anything more than co-managers of the school system stands to be disappointed.
If public education survives the Cuomo onslaught that is coming in 2015 (We still have Shelly Silver and the Assembly Democrats so we have a fighting chance.), we may then have an even bigger political battle ahead of us in 2017. I am not overly optimistic we can win without a serious mobilization.
As for the PBA and SBA, the angry talk may be put on hold as the city mourns the loss of two officers but expect the rift with City Hall to continue.
I know that you join me in mourning the tragic deaths of police officers Wenjan Liu and Rafael Ramos over the weekend.
The senseless violence that took their lives has thrown a pall over our city and our school communities.
In addition to the two officers’ service on the police force, Officer Ramos previously served as a school safety agent at the Rocco Laurie School on Staten Island where he was adored by students and the entire school community.
In classrooms today around the city, so many of you were faced with students struggling to make sense of this senseless act.
This is part of what we do as UFT members, educators and community leaders — we help our students and fellow community members deal with horrible tragedy.
Tonight, the UFT Executive Board passed a resolution offering our deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of Officers Liu and Ramos.
Our resolution also pledges that our union will continue as always to work for peace in our communities and respect for all.
At this difficult time, I want to thank you for all that you do for our students and our city.