Pat Lynch is up in arms and raising hell.
The pugnacious head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which represents the NYPD's rank-and-file officers, can often be heard voicing his opinion about something. Recently, it was filmmaker Quentin Tarantino's comments about cops who "murder" unarmed civilians. Now it's contract negotiations with NYC.
PBA members have worked without a contract since 2010. When negotiations for a new contract broke down last year, Lynch opted for a Hail Mary and put his union's case before an independent arbitrator. This had worked for him before, achieving higher raises than other police unions. This time, the arbitrator drafted an agreement specifying 1 percent raises for two years, similar to the de Blasio administration's deals with the other police unions. A new contract would be negotiated for half of 2012 and beyond.
Then the histrionics began. Lynch led a rally in front of the arbitrator's house last week, where PBA members shouted "Whose blood? Our blood!" and claimed the "fix" was in. They compared their situation with that of fast-food workers making minimum wage. A PBA delegate in Brooklyn reportedly called for 1% effort on the job in exchange for the 1 percent raise. So, they're looking for a 100% increase?
It's all part of the script. Mike Quill, the legendary founder of the Transport Workers Union, might approve. After losing a court fight during a transit strike, he said, "The judge can drop dead in his black robes."
Maybe the sound and fury rally the base. But we wonder whether a better tactic would be for the union to drop the hyperbole. Few people would argue with the fact that New York gets more expensive day by day. With base pay starting just under $42,000, the cop you see patrolling the streets can't afford to live on most of them. No sense begrudging a union leader trying to get more for his members. That's just negotiation.
But it's hard to sympathize when we're so numbed by the shouting.