New York Daily News

August 23, 2017, 1:08 AM

  

 

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association seeks impasse as contract talks with de Blasio stall

BY REUVEN BLAU

PBA honcho Pat Lynch is seeking a mediator to help the union and city reach a contract settlement.  (DEBBIE EGAN-CHIN/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Mayor de Blasio may face some union angst after all.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association says contract talks with the de Blasio administration have hit a wall a mere two weeks after the union's contract expired.

As a result, the PBA has asked the state Public Employment Relations Board to declare an impasse, the first step in the binding arbitration process.

The PBA is worried that the city will first try to negotiate an inferior deal with one of the other smaller police or law enforcement unions, according to a union message to members. That potential deal will then be used as the pattern for all other contracts this round of bargaining.

"We would like nothing better than to reach an agreement at the bargaining table as we have done in past rounds, including the last one," PBA President Pat Lynch said in a statement. "But so far City Hall has refused to engage in any meaningful discussion, other than to say they have a 'fundamental disagreement' with the idea that police officers should be paid a fair market wage. We are hoping that a mediator will be appointed to help us resolve the impasse."

The move has angered the city's top negotiator.

"I think it is ridiculously premature for the PBA to be filing for impasse with PERB," Labor Commissioner Robert Linn said in a statement. "We have had a total of two negotiating sessions and the union has not even responded in person to the city's proposals."

During Lynch's 18-year tenure, the union has frequently sought arbitration.

Labor Commissioner Robert Linn (l.) speaks with Mayor de Blasio in May 2015.  (BARRY WILLIAMS/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

"We believe the Public Employee Relations Board will see this for what it is: a patent attempt by the PBA to once again rush to arbitration rather than negotiate in good faith," Linn said.

Arbitration is costly and typically takes at least a year. It also entails a scoping procedure in which the three selected arbitrators review all aspects of the union's contract. That includes longstanding perks that are largely viewed untouchable during direct talks with city negotiators.

The PBA was furious with the outcome of its last contract arbitration case, which resulted in 1% raises for each of the two years. The award matched what other unions got over the same period.

But Lynch argued that arbitrator, Howard Edelman, sold out the PBA in order to get more mediation business from the city. PBA members rallied outside Edelman's home and the union for a while refused to pay his $115,000 bill.

The move angered other arbitrators, with 27 writing to PERB asking to be excluded from any future PBA job.

The PBA's move to begin the arbitration process was first reported by The Chief-Leader.