Channel 7: WABC News

August 15, 2002

 

Cops, Firefighters Rally In Times Square, Demanding Better Pay

Playing the 'hero card,' thousands of off-duty police officers and firefighters invoked the role they played on September 11th, as they jammed Times Square on Thursday afternoon to rally for better pay. After working without a contract for two years, police officers are outraged at reports that a state panel has recommended a raise that falls far short of the 23 percent raise the union is asking for.

Pat Lynch, PBA President: "This proud police department and fire department are on the verge of death. Death from a broken heart, a heart that cried on September 11th."

The police officers and firefighters were joined by members of construction unions at the two hour rally, which was organized by the PBA and the Uniformed Firefighters Association. Police declined to give an official crowd estimate, but the police and fire unions put the number at 15,000.

A stage was set up at 42nd Street and Broadway for appearances by actors, the Radio City Rockettes and politicians, including New York Senator Hillary Clinton. While Clinton was greeted with a mix of cheers and boos, she expressed her support for New York City's police officers.

Senator Hillary Clinton, New York (D): "I believe that the police officers are entitled to a raise, not just because of September 11th, but because of every single day."

Police officers, whose contract expired in July of 2000, have been upset over the reports that a state arbitration panel working may sign off on a two year contract that gives the PBA members a 5 percent raise while increasing the number of work days each year. The PBA has asked for a 23 percent pay hike over two years.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he would like to give both the police and firefighters the raise they are seeking, but is hampered by a $5 billion shortfall in the city budget.

Meanwhile, firefighters are hoping the PBA members get what they are looking for, because they are next up to negotiate their contract. UFA spokesman Tom Butler said that union had been without a contract for 27 months and without a pay raise in 40 months.

Tom Butler, UFA Spokesman: "Our firefighters are not given a living wage, our firefighters cannot afford to live in New York. These men and women risk their lives every day for a pauper's wage."

The PBA has posted job openings in law enforcement from around the country on its Web site to show the disparity. The starting salaries for the positions listed are generally higher than the $31,305 New York City police officers earn. In Seattle, for example, the starting salary is listed as $46,146, and it is similar in Irvine, CA.

The starting salary at the FDNY is $32,724.