The roots of the SBA run as deep as those of the City of New York itself. In 1899, just one year following the consolidation of the city's five boroughs and the formation of the NYPD, the Department's supervisory officers formed a fraternal organization known as the Police Sergeants Endowment and Benevolent Association. The new group, led by President Oliver Tims, merged sergeants' organizations that had already existed in New York and Brooklyn for more than 10 years, and also included lieutenants and other high-ranking officers among its membership.
For the next 60 years, the SBA existed largely as an advocacy group, working on behalf of New York's sergeants, but holding no firm authority to bargain with the City or press for meaningful reforms. Union leadership was virtually non-existent; currently accepted work standards such as overtime pay, night differential pay and longevity pay were still years away, and while sergeants were entitled to participate in a single health insurance plan, they were likewise required to pay 50 percent of its premiums.
That all began to change with the election of Harold Melnick as the SBA's first modern president in 1961. Over the next 20 years, President Melnick enacted a series of sweeping innovations that would come to revolutionize municipal labor. Under his tutelage, the SBA sought and won individual collective bargaining rights, established its first self-administered health and welfare plan, obtained pay parody with fire lieutenants (who hold a comparable rank to the NYPD's sergeants), and expanded health insurance coverage and options for sergeants across the city.
Merging with Transit and Housing
From the time of President Melnick's election, more than 30 years would pass until the SBA underwent its next substantial change. In 1995, with the consolidation of the Transit and Housing police departments into the NYPD, the association merged with the unions representing sergeants of both departments, bringing the total number of active and retired sergeants to the level at which it now stands.
Renewing Our Vision and Commitment
Today's SBA is led by President Edward Mullins, who is dedicated to bringing a new level of commitment -- and a new set of accomplishments -- to a union that has an already long and glorious history. President Mullins and his executive board were elected to office in 2002 and ran unopposed in the 2006 election. They were re-elected with the promise that they would continue to set forth on an aggressive course of organization-building and advocacy for the men and women who serve as the "Finest of the Finest."