Trivia – May 2021

Post 13 Trivia – May 2021
Summer ’94
John Young (Patrolman) 

I left off “Election Day ’93” with Giuliani beating Dinkins in the early morning hours. Ruby didn’t concede but was sworn on January 1, 1994. Bill Bratton replaced Ray Kelly as the Police Commissioner. Randy Levine, a New York attorney replaced Jim Hanley as the City’s Labor Commissioner but Hanley stayed on as his deputy. Hanley knew where all the bodies were buried, as he’s been around since the 1978 Hilton Agreement. 

The City and a coalition of 19 unions had reached an agreement in January 1993. This agreement ran 39 months, retroactive for the Teamsters (Local 237) to October 1, 1991 and for District Council 37 to January 1, 1992 (only 36 months.) A basic 2-3-3 percent increase with a $700.00 cash payment to be paid on the execution of the agreement. The last three percent increase came on December 1, 1994. 

Caruso and members of the Executive Board traveled to Albany in March. Both houses of the State Legislative enacted a formal resolution commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. We even had breakfast with Governor Mario Cuomo in the Governor’s Mansion. I still have my place card, autographed by him. 

You got to love those politicians, they work three days a week- Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Always looking for donations and PBA cards, as some of you might remember from our yearly bus ride to Albany. Well, while the Legislators honored the PBA in late March, a couple of weeks later they killed our PERB bill. 

The PBA had put all its eggs in one basket. We had tries to get out from under the control of the City’s unfair Office of Collective Bargaining. PERB was our only hope, especially after fighting with City Hall over other issues. PERB had made Nassau County cops, the highest paid in the county- their base started at $30,336 a year and reached $49,123 after five years. That was their salaries in 1991! 

After weeks of negotiations, a tentative agreement was sent out to the members in July. The agreement was for 42 months, commencing October 1, 1991 and ending on March 31, 1995. It had a general wage increase of 2-2-3 percent starting April 1, 1993 and an additional $375 to several longevity steps. 

Basically, base salary with five years of service went from $40,679 to $43,592 and total compensation with longevity, holiday, night differ, uniform allowance and annuity fund, the salary went from $49,300 to $52,572. A cop with twenty years went from $52,437 to $55,699. That’s how the City sees what a cop cost them, plus health insurance. 

While there was no increase for the first 16 months, all members on the payroll from 1 JAN 1991 to 1 JAN 1992 received a lump sum of $4,000, while members hired between January and June 1992 received a lump sum of $2,000. If a Tier 1 member retired on 1 JAN 1993, the entire $4,000 was “pensionable.” It was the same for the Tier 11 members who retired before December 31, 1994. 

While there were other benefits, the most notable was that all members were given 9 mm automatic weapons and they ultimately became the cop’s property. Members who had previously purchased such weapons were reimbursed by the City.

Overwhelmingly approved by the delegate body, the ballots went out to the membership with a return date of August 8, 1994. Highlighted on page two of the six page enclosure: there shall be NO give ups which means- no additional rescheduling days, no duty chart revisions containing annual appearance and no solo cars. 

Eventually the contract was approved and cops received their retroactive check in early October. The amount mentioned in the ballot enclosure specified $5974 including lump sum for senior patrolmen. What should have been mentioned in the PBA enclosure were the regular deductions and taxes. I remember getting beat up in some commands about no monies for the first 16 months and the lump sum. Some say it should have been more! 

Remember pattern bargaining and parity. It’s like the Military Pay Scale, regardless of your rate (job title)- boatswain, engineman or ship’s cook (police officer, santi-worker or firefighter), all pay grades E1 through E9 receive the same monthly pay. Police officers and Firefighters receive the same base pay, while a Sanitation Worker gets 90 percent of a cop’s salary. Garbage-men in Honolulu work until they finish their route for a base pay. 

Both Fire and Sanitation have better overtime because of work rules and snow storms. I just love the five men on a truck rule and still can’t figure out how many firefighters get injured at the scene of a fire, especially with bumper suits and oxygen tanks. Remember seeing firemen carrying their gear on the street while walking to a adjourning firehouse. 

Getting back to the summer, it started with O.J. Simpson being chased by L.A. cops in a white Bronco (6/13/94), “Forrest Gump” was drawing record crowds at local theatres and there was no “World Series” because of a player’s strike that started in August. Cops had started to take back the streets with Bratton’s “broken window” policing. 

With election-time six months away, Caruso decided to step down in January 1995 and picked Lou Matarazzo to lead the PBA. It was time for the changing of the guard as Tom Velotti (1st VP) and Ed Haggerty (2nd VP) had already filed for retirement. Neither could finish their term because of the age requirement to retire at 63 for uniform members. 

Phil’s accomplishments could go on for pages. As former 1st V.P Bruce Robertson wrote In the Chief-Leader (July 2015) it starts with a 2-year, 20 % contract in 1980, wage and fringe benefits averaging 10 percent annually over the course of his tenure, a fiscal sound PBA, the “Christmas” bonus (Bloomberg’s words), steady tours, doubling of the annuity fund, corrected difference between Art 2 & Art 2A (pension based on last year’s salary), and various legislation that allowed pension credit for police trainee and laid-off time. 

Caruso brought class to the PBA presidency, as well as being a strong, articulate leader that enhanced the image of every cop. He turned the PBA into a powerful labor union.