New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is so frustrated by his department's problems attracting recruits that he took a surprising slap at a time-honored city tradition that os supported by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, says the New York Times. Kelly disparaged the decades-old system of pattern bargaining in which the city, to prevent labor negotiations from degenerating into anarchy and leapfrogging, makes sure that every union accepts more or less the same pattern of raises. In 2006 and again this year, the basic raise has been 4 percent.
Calling for an end to pattern bargaining for police officers, Kelly lent support to one of Bloomberg's adversaries, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which asserts that pattern bargaining is the main reason that the city's police salaries remain far below suburban salaries. The lower salaries, Kelly and the union seem to agree, go far to explain why the city has attracted only 800 cadets for the Police Academy's next session – one-third the number that the Police Department was hoping for. James Hanley, the city's labor commissioner and most outspoken champion of pattern bargaining, noted that New York City teachers had used pattern bargaining creatively to get wage increases totaling more than 30 percent. He argued that if the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association were to show similar flexibility in negotiations, it could receive double-digit raises as well.