RATIFICATION STRENGTHENS CITY’S CASE: The approval of a contract covering ‘white-shirt’ cops in the ranks of Captain and above bolsters the de Blasio administration’s argument in a pending arbitration with the Police Benevolent Association that a pattern set with another NYPD union should be honored for the sake of bargaining stability. The latter union will counter that its members are too far behind the salaries paid to officers in neighboring jurisdictions to hold them to the same terms as other uniformed city employees. 

The Captains Endowment Association Feb. 6 became the first uniformed union in this round of bargaining to ratify its contract, with 499 votes in favor and just 54 against the 39-month deal that provides 7.95 percent in raises and an additional 2.25 percent in the form of two differentials.

Christopher Monahan, who was involved in negotiating the terms even before succeeding Roy Richter as president upon his retirement Dec. 31, said in a statement, “I am very grateful that membership overwhelmingly ratified this contract. We were able to achieve the entire economic package with acceptable concessions.”

Helps City With PBA

Finalizing the terms has added relevance for the upcoming arbitration involving the Police Benevolent Association. It gives the de Blasio administration a police pattern to cite in its efforts to limit that union’s award to the same cost per member as other uniformed employees. Several other members of the uniformed coalition that negotiated the wage component of that deal last December are in the process of getting their contracts—also containing added benefits from the unit-bargaining phase covering items unique to those unions—ratified by their rank and files.

The PBA, on the other hand, has made clear that it will argue that its members should not be bound to terms negotiated by other uniformed groups, particularly when salaries for its members are substantially below those paid to officers in neighboring departments, including the State Police, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police, cops employed by Nassau and Suffolk counties, and even those in Newark, N.J.

Its president, Patrick J. Lynch, said in a statement following the ratification announcement by Captain Monahan, “The vote shows that NYPD Captains believe the settlement meets their unique needs and concerns. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the city’s proposals to the PBA. We remain dramatically underpaid relative to other police officers, not only those who work in surrounding communities, but also those who help us patrol New York City. None of the city’s offers to the PBA have adequately addressed that disparity.”

Process Back on Track

The PBA arbitration, which was originally scheduled to begin late last month and conclude hearings Feb. 14, wound up being postponed when illness sidelined the original chairman of the panel, but the selection of veteran arbiter Martin Scheinman Jan. 31 will limit the delay once a new set of hearing dates can be coordinated among the parties.

The unit-agreement portion of the CEA pact will, as of May 1, provide Captains with at least five years on the job an added differential of $1,285, with those in higher ranks receiving $1,379 if they have five years in any rank from Captain up. It also, effective May 1, 2022—three months before the contract ends—will provide those with at least 25 years’ service in the NYPD a further differential of $2,651.

The unit deal also, as of July 1, 2021, will provide a $100 health-and-welfare-fund increase for active members and one of $166 for retirees.

To partially offset the cost of that package, Labor Commissioner Renee Campion insisted that the union stretch out the payment date for its third-year raise in addition to the three-month extension from the original 36-month duration of the uniformed-coalition contract. This meant that while the initial raise of 2.25 percent remained retroactive to May 1, 2019—the first day of the new CEA agreement—and the second hike of 2.5 percent takes effect this May 1, the final pay increase of 3 perrcent had its effective date pushed back from May 1, 2021 to Sept. 1 of that year. The contract’s expiration date, originally set for May 1, 2022, will now be July 31 of that year.

A ‘Make-Up’ Benefit

The 2.25 percent in differentials—which will be pensionable—was a priority for the CEA, as it is in various forms for the other coalition members, because of a raise of that amount negotiated by the PBA three years ago that gave incumbent officers of that union compensation beyond that negotiated previously by the other uniformed unions. The cost to the city of that PBA raise had been the same, because Mr. Lynch had agreed to reduce the pay scale for future officers to fund it, but the rank and file members of the other unions were soon clamoring for a similar gain.

Because all those unions with the exception of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association represent memberships with lower turnover rates than Police Officers, city administrations have traditionally demanded that they make greater concessions than the PBA to even out costs. This has created political problems for numerous uniformed-union leaders over the 32 years in which the city has periodically engaged in attrition-based bargaining, or in arbitrations in which it was applied to the awards.

Judging by the vote among the CEA’s members, which besides Captains include titles like Deputy Inspector, Inspector and Police Surgeon, they concurred with the decision by Inspector Richter and Captain Monahan not to disrupt the pay scale for future promotees into the union but rather to provide the required savings through the delays in the third-year raise and the end of the contract, plus a one-day reduction in vacation days—from 27 to 26—that will take effect for all members on Jan. 1, 2022.       

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