PBA NYS LETTER TO GOVERNOR CUOMO
January 12, 2021
The Honorable Andrew Cuomo
Governor of New York State
New York State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo:
As president of the PBA NYS, I am writing to ask you to right a wrong that is harming 1,200 police officers who work under your command. Our membership was encouraged by your State of the State address. We agree with you that it is a New Day in America with the change in leadership in Washington. We also recognize that you have always been a great supporter of organized labor. However, our small but important bargaining unit, directly under your control has been overlooked for far too long. We know it was not intentional, especially for such a unit that was so critical in the state’s COVID pandemic response. All that we ask is for fairness and decency.
I want to also commend you for the exemplary leadership you are displaying during New York’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You have demonstrated what it means to be New York Tough. We will win this war together.
The members of the Police Benevolent Association of New York are proud to be part of that effort. Our members in the New York State University Police, the New York State Environmental Conservation Police, the New York State Park Police, and the New York State Forest Rangers have been on the front lines of the state’s response to COVID-19. Members from all four of these agencies have been staffing COVID testing sites and now vaccine locations throughout the State. 2020 was a tough year for everybody, and these police officers under your command stepped up when called. In addition to last year’s unique challenges, we continued keeping the public safe and the environment protected in our Parks, on our public lands, and on our SUNY campuses.
To your credit, on April 20, 2020 you called upon the federal government to provide hazard pay for essential public workers on the front lines, proposing a 50 percent bonus. Our members are gratified you have their backs while they are on the front lines of the pandemic. We have waited patiently for relief to come from Washington. With a new administration taking office, and a presumptive Senate majority leader from New York, we are very optimistic about fiscal relief from the federal government in 2021.
Our members are still on 2014 salary levels. Governor Cuomo, we call upon you to make our members whole and enact legislation that ratifies our 2020 arbitration award that brings our members compensation in line with all other state employees.
The members of the PBA of NYS, nearly 1,200 police officers under your command, have been without a contract since 2015. We are the only state employees who have gone this long without a compensation adjustment. Through the efforts of your administration, we did receive an interest arbitration award in March of 2020 that granted our members raises through 2018 consistent with those of other state employees. The award was issued just as the COVID pandemic hit our state hard, and your administration did not immediately release the pay bill to the legislature. It was released in mid-summer, after the regular legislative session ended. These men and women, the same ones you said should get hazardous duty pay and the same ones who contracted COVID at times, continued on 2014 salaries.
We are now in legislative session, and you can rectify this immediately. Please release a new pay bill to the legislature and include it in your executive budget proposal later this month. Please send New York State the message that seven years is too long a time for these public servants to wait.
We are honored to protect New York’s resources and the public. We continue assisting with the State’s COVID response, putting our lives and our health on the line. We are not asking for the 2020 raises you held for other state employees. By releasing the pay bill we reference would get our members caught up to 2018 salaries, but that would be an important assurance these dedicated public servants are being treated fairly.