More than 700 detectives may get thousands of dollars in retroactive pay, thanks to a court decision that found the city failed to boost the starting salary for entry-level detectives to above the pay for cops.
In 2011, the Detectives Endowment Association filed a complaint with the city’s Board of Collective Bargaining, trying to force the panel to arbitrate a grievance regarding the pay dispute.
The union contended that there was an unfair salary discrepancy between police officers and the 735 detectives who were promoted after Aug. 1, 2004 but before March 31, 2006.
Over that period, the newly promoted detectives earned $60,840, while the base pay for police officers was raised to $62,269. That difference was due to a 2004 arbitration award issued to the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association while the DEA remained working under an expired contract.
But the BCB tossed the case, concluding the matter was not a mandatory subject of collective bargaining.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Wright slammed that decision in a landmark ruling.
“The Collective Bargaining Board’s decision is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion,” Wright said in a scathing 15-page decision issued April 8.
City lawyers unsuccessfully argued that the DEA had no power to force the administration to arbitrate the dispute and that detectives were properly paid based on the contract in place.
Each of the affected detectives stands to earn approximately $11,000, according to DEA estimates. That will cost the city an estimated $8 million.
But the matter is far from settled.
Wright ordered the case back to the BCB, a decision city lawyers are likely to appeal.
Still, DEA President Michael Palladino hailed the ruling, noting that state courts typically defer to the local labor board.
“Winning the right to fight is half the battle,” he said.
A city attorney handling the case noted that it was “nearly identical” to a suit brought by the Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA) which was tossed.
“We are evaluating all our legal options with respect to this decision,” added city lawyer John Schowengerdt.