After three years of negotiations, and a week before the two sides were to restart arbitration, negotiators for the NYPD Sergeants union and city labor officials have agreed on contract terms.
The two parties will soon have to do it all over again.
The agreement, overwhelmingly ratified by Sergeants’ Benevolent Association delegates earlier this month, covers the period from Aug. 30, 2018 through Dec. 9 of this year, including a contract extension of 3 months and 9 days to keep the costs to the city in line with the established bargaining pattern for uniformed unions providing 7.95-percent raises.
Rank & File to Vote
About 4,700 Sergeants, including retirees, are covered by the agreement, which would give them 2.25-percent increases retroactive to the first day of the pact, 2.5 percent a year later and extending into the same period in 2020 and 3 percent through Dec. 9. If approved, the beginning rate for Sergeants would rise from $88,945 to $96,017 in base pay, and salaries for Sergeants at the top step on the scale would move from $109,360 to $118,056.
The SBA delegates vote was 114 in favor to 4 against. The membership will be voting on the contract in January.
“We are very proud of the work done by the SBA board during this challenging process and greatly appreciate the support of the membership,” union President Vincent Vallelong, said. “After three years of often-arduous negotiations, I am happy that we reached a contract settlement. It was nice that it came at this time of year, and I believe the membership will be happy with the terms.”
There is also a 2.25-percent additional increase, in the form of upgrades in union benefits, matching what Police Officers gained under an earlier contract nearly five years ago. It reflects Sergeants’ commitment to the use of body cameras and neighborhood policing, the union president said.
That benefit increase will take two forms: longevity-pay upgrades and a legal-representation fund increase.
Sergeants with five years in that rank, whose longevity differential under the expired pact is $5,257, if the tentative pact was ratified would get a series of what are called service differentials that combined will provide them with an additional $1,207—with the bulk of that increase retroactive to Aug. 30, 2018, according to Labor Commissioner Renee Campion. Those who qualify for the 10-year longevity payment, which stands at $6,309, if the pact were approved would have the longevity differential boosted to $7,725, retroactive to this past Aug. 29. The 15- and 20-year longevity differentials, which have been $8,475 and $9,556 respectively, would also increase retroactive to that date by $1,416: to $9,891 at 15 years and 10,972 after 20 years, Ms. Campion said.
There would also, if the terms were ratified, be a rise in the city's annual contribution to the union’s legal representation fund to $275 per active employee from $75.
The settlement’s roughly $200-million cost, including retroactive pay, has been funded for this fiscal year, the Mayor’s Office said.
“We are proud to have reached this agreement with SBA, which is the culmination of years of collective bargaining. This workforce is a critical component of the NYPD’s public-safety effort, and this contract is a fair and equitable recognition of these employees’ important work,” Ms. Campion said.
The city has now reached pattern-conforming contract agreements for the current round of bargaining with nearly 90 percent of its unionized workers. A conspicuous exception are Police Officers, with the Police Benevolent Association and Ms. Campion involved in a binding-arbitration process in which closing arguments will be made next month.
Virus Infected Talks
Sergeant Vallelong, who was elevated from union vice president when Ed Mullins stepped down Oct. 5, a day after Federal agents raided his home and union headquarters, has been involved in the negotiations for some time.
“To give the city credit, we were involved in talking with Renee Campion, and COVID really turned everything upside down and it was difficult to get a flow going,” he said about the length of time it took to reach agreement.
Other unions representing uniformed workers over the past couple of years have negotiated the 2.25-percent differential that the PBA gained Jan. 31, 2017. They include the Lieutenants' Benevolent Association and the Captains' Endowment Association, which agreed to increases in other benefits such as longevity differentials rather than pay raises after negotiating basic wage terms in December 2019 as part of a uniformed coalition.
Where the PBA five years ago, offset the extra costs to the city of the differential by stretching out it pay scale for officers hired after that, those unions covered the differential’s costs without gouging future members. The CEA, for example, on the last day of 2019 agreed to delay implementation of a third-year pay raise by four months, extended the length of its contract from 36 to 39 months, and cut one day—from 27 to 26—off the vacation schedule for all its members.
PBA Award by Summer?
The PBA, whose members are working under a contract that expired Aug. 1, 2017, has rejected the basic 7.95-percent raises. It filed for arbitration late in 2017, but proceedings were delayed first by a serious illness that sidelined the chairman of that panel, and later by the pandemic. An award figures to be produced by next summer.
Mr. Vallelong said he and his team would begin negotiations on a new contract with representatives of the incoming Eric Adams administration “as soon as possible.”
“We’ll make it a priority,” he said.
Editor's note: Due to a miscommunication with the city Office of Labor Relations, the original version of this story erroneously reported that there was no increase in longevity differentials for Sergeants with at least 15 years of service.