Panel Rules City Can Revoke Indicted Officers' 'Release Time'

, New York Law Journal

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New York City can terminate union-mandated paid "release time" for police officers involved in a ticket-fixing scheme, a divided state appeals panel has ruled, vacating a preliminary injunction imposed on the city by a lower court judge pending a separate arbitration proceeding.

A 3-2 panel of the Appellate Division, First Department, ruled Tuesday in Patrolmen's Benevolent Assn. v. City of New York, 113039/11, that the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA), the union representing the officers, is not likely to prevail in the arbitration.

Justice Richard Andrias wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Leland DeGrasse and Sallie Manzanet-Daniels.

Justice Judith Gische wrote a dissent, joined by Justice Peter Tom.

The case involves three members of the PBA, not named in the decision, who were elected to four-year terms as PBA representatives for police officers in the Bronx.

Under a 1973 Mayor's Executive Order, known as EO 75, city employees can take a paid leave of absence in order to work for their union, known as release time. In July 2011, the city issued certificates allowing release time for the three officers.

In October 2011, however, the officers were indicted as part of a ticket-fixing scheme. They pleaded not guilty. In November 2011, the city rescinded their release time certificates. It offered to issue new certificates to three new representatives of the PBA's choice, but the PBA refused, instead filing a grievance with the Office of Labor Relations.

The OLR denied their grievance, and the PBA filed a request for arbitration with the Office of Collective Bargaining. They also filed an action in Manhattan Supreme Court seeking a preliminary injunction preventing the city from rescinding the certificates.

Justice Joan Lobis granted the injunction in December 2011, and the city appealed.

The Municipal Labor Committee, a coalition of city worker unions, filed an amicus brief on the side of the PBA, represented by Harry Greenberg and Genevieve Peeples of Greenberg Burzichelli Greenberg.

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