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More than 1,000 NYPD officers protest contract proposal outside arbitrator's home

NYC Patrolmen's Benevolent Association members express their discontent

NYC Patrolmen's Benevolent Association members express their discontent with a proposed 1 percent raise in Manhattan, Nov. 5, 2015. Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Members of the rank-and-file NYPD officers' union shouting angry slogans and wielding a prop coffin packed the sidewalk outside the Upper East Side home of an arbitrator Thursday to protest a contract proposal as unfair and insulting.

"Whose blood? Our blood! ... Whose lives? Our lives!" chanted more than 1,000 off-duty cops with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association who gathered outside the apartment building at 7 a.m.

Some carried signs that read, "The fix is in." A 25-foot inflatable "union rat" was set up with a photo of arbitrator Howard Edelman and the label "compromised." It was not clear whether he was home.

The PBA, whose 24,000 members have worked without contract since 2010, denounced a draft agreement giving them retroactive raises of 1 percent for each of two years.

"What they want is a fair shake. What they want is this arbitrator to have the courage that police officers have every day," PBA president Patrick Lynch told Newsday. "All he has to do is write a proper and legal decision while the police officers are laying down their lives."

Four officers have been killed in the line of duty in the past year.

Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said Wednesday that "there's no final decision" on the contract.

De Blasio, whose administration has settled contracts for 84 percent of the city workforce, including 11 uniformed officers' unions, said the deal follows the pattern set in other negotiations.

"The pattern that we set for all of our uniformed services is fair, and obviously the vast majority of the uniformed unions and their members thought it was fair because they voted for it," the mayor said Tuesday.

Edelman, chair of a three-person panel created by the state's Public Employment Relations Board, is deciding the PBA's contract for Aug. 1, 2010 through July 31, 2012.

Because they are in arbitration, the PBA is negotiating its contract two years at a time. Other unions have reached seven-year agreements.

A final resolution is expected as soon as next week.

Cops said their pay should be on par with police forces such as the Port Authority and Nassau County.

"We're just letting him know that blue lives matter," retired NYPD Officer Gene Jackson, 52, of Hampton Bays, said of Edelman. "The morale of the police department is at an all-time low."

Officer Joe Reale -- brother-in-law to Det. Peter Figoski, the West Babylon resident killed in 2011 -- said at the rally that police risking their lives deserve better treatment.

"One percent is not enough," said Reale, 45, a Suffolk resident stationed in Manhattan. "Too many cops are dying."


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