Closing arguments in the arbitration case involving a new contract for the Police Benevolent Association were scheduled to be made Jan. 11 and 12, but Labor Commissioner Renee Campion told us prior to those sessions that longer-than-expected presentations on earlier dates pushed back the city's rebuttal of the union's case, which would be conducted on those dates.
As a result, both sides' final arguments were put off to dates that had not yet been scheduled. Since it typically takes about six months from the time those arguments conclude until a decision is reached, it's possible the three-man arbitration panel's award won't come until after Aug. 1, which would be the fifth anniversary of the expiration of the current police-union contract.
PBA President Pat Lynch made clear prior to the start of the arbitration last Nov. 30 that his union was seeking contract terms well beyond the 7.95-percent raises over three years that has been the norm for all other uniformed unions this bargaining round. That includes the other four city police unions, two of which—representing Sergeants and Detectives—came to terms late last year and have begun the member-ratification process.
The PBA is basing its case for a "market" increase on the large differences between its members' salaries and those paid to State Troopers and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Officers, a good number of whom are assigned to locations in the five boroughs.
The city was expected to make its usual counter-argument in the fifth arbitration case in which it has been embroiled with the PBA since Mr. Lynch became the union's president in 1999: that it is imperative for bargaining stability to honor an established pattern for uniformed employees.
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Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's memo outlining to staffers the cases in which he wants them to not seek bail or decline to press for jail time for offenders was disturbing enough to police-union leaders and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell that they have separately called on the new DA to meet with them so they can explain their concerns.
During an appearance Jan. 10 on WNYC-radio's "The Brian Lehrer Show," Mr. Bragg said a meeting would be held later in the week with Ms. Sewell but suggested the Police Commissioner may have misunderstood the intent of his memo.
Not surprisingly, some Republican officials were inclined to skip meetings and go directly to demands for Mr. Bragg to be removed from office.
During a press conference outside the DA's lower Manhattan headquarters that afternoon, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, the choice of both the state Republican and Conservative parties for Governor, called for Governor Hochul to remove Mr. Bragg from office, saying that if he "wanted to ignore the law, he shouldn't have run for office."