Tuesday, January 6, 2015

NYPD: Being Attacked, Or On The Attack?

Some comments my blog post about how Mulgrew and other municipal union leaders have turned their back on de Blasio got me to thinking. Before I even delve into that, however, there is an important question to be considered:

Should city unions stick together no matter what? My own view is that most of the time, we certainly should. When it comes to raises, seniority, equal treatment, layoffs, and most other reasons for which unions exists, we absolutely need to stick together.

To me, the current situation feels different. It's not about any of those major union issues--the current conflict stems from the fact that most of the NYPD is far more to the right politically than other city unions and would like to take Mayor de Blasio out if they could. Simply put, the NYPD fares better under Republican mayors (as we have seen time and again over the past 20 years) and other municipal unions fare much worse (ditto those 20 years).

Here's what one anonymous commenter, ostensibly a teacher, had to say: The attack on cops is just like the attack on teachers. It is an attack on middle class union jobs. People keep forgetting to mention that the PBA are working without a contract. Lynch is busting his behind to get a decent contract for his members which is something that the UFT has not been able to accomplish since before 2005.

Frankly, I don't see it that way at all. The mayor has not threatened to lay off police, bust the union, privatize policing, or anything of the sort. In fact, the PBA is in binding arbitration, so nothing Lynch does will have an effect on the contract. What the mayor has done is limit the ability of the police to stop and frisk whomever they please--a position supported by the 73% of voters who elected de Blasio knowing one of his major priorities was to sharply curtail that practice.

Another commenter said: There is and has been a war on policing as a profession. New retirement tiers have been created, new massive oversight of Complaint Board, fights to try to get all cops to live in the 5 boroughs, ticket and arrest quotas, and yes, their pensions are also under attack. It is not as bad as the war on teachers but it seems to me that cops are becoming the new punching bags for the hedge funders to get their hands on.

There are several points to be made here. First, the new retirement tiers affect teachers, too, so that's not just an attack on cops. And even more to the point, Bill de Blasio is not the one who instituted the new tiers, so how can he be held accountable? If there's a war here, it was waged by Bloomberg during his 12 years (which the NYPD supported) and Andrew Cuomo.

As far as the complaint board, residency requirements, and quotas, I admit I don't know much about those issues, but I do know that they were not instituted by de Blasio, the man who police are waging war on. Frankly, it reminds me of when we were attacked by Al Qaeda and President Bush decided to wage war on Iraq.

Are the police the new target of hedge funders? I don't know enough to be sure, but I do know how teachers were (and are) being treated when the fundies got the idea of "reforming" education. As I commented: Are they (the police) being put in rubber rooms? Unfairly evaluated? Threatened with layoffs? Having their seniority taken away? Having their pensions questioned? Is someone trying to privatize the police department? Is there a "Cops for America" corps taking jobs?

Those thing are not happening to the NYPD, and I can't see them happening under Bill de Blasio.  However, based on the antics of PBA President Pat Lynch, you can bet that the fundies are just salivating at the idea that they can paint the NYPD as a bunch of out of control armed union crazies, and attack police rights for that reason. Lynch is just playing into their hands. And sadly, the fundies will paint all municipal unions as a bunch of insubordinate louts.

So, to my fellow city workers in the NYPD, here's what I have to say. When it comes to pay, benefits, retirement, job protections, work rules, etc., I am on your side. However, when you try to wage war on de Blasio, the only pro-union mayor we have had in decades, I will not support you. The outrageous antics of your union president give all unions a black eye, and I do not want to see a return to the bad old days when the city was run by those whose main interests were breaking the UFT and other municipal unions.


Michael Fiorillo said...

What the PBA is doing is not just an attack on De Blasio, but an attack on civilian government itself, by an institution (the "world's seventh largest army," as Bloomberg bragged) that refuses to consider reasonable oversight, and has made no efforts to resist policies - broken windows policing, stop-and-frisk, arrest quotas, etc. - that put them into conflict with the communities they are ostensibly there to serve.

Just think for a minute about what "arrest quotas" really means, how that plays out in practice, given the racial history of this country. Then, combine that with accelerating inequality (or what should be called class war) and over-the-top militarization of the police, and you have an emergent Police State.

ed notes online said...

And there are no threats to set up competing police precincts in high crime neighborhoods so people have "Choice."

Anonymous said...

Wow, great article and great comments!!! BTW, I don't care if NYPD live in the city or not but they need to respect the city in which they work. The same is true for UFT members. Too many members live in LI or Westchester and come to work with a detached annoying oftentimes elitist attitude. I say if you are going to take a civil service job here show some respect not just for the mayor but the citzens too.

Anonymous said...

De Blasio doesn't even recognize his own race-baiting because his comments are standard lefty agitprop fare wherein white hegemony and institutional racism are taken as givens.
All he has to do is apologize for his race-baiting smear of cops when recounting his purported discussion with his biracial son and both sides can move on. But he doesn't even realize he should apologize.
His fellow travelers are similarly mystified by calls for a De Blasio apology.