Channel 7: WABC News

August 10, 2004


NYPD, FDNY Loudly Hound Bloomberg Over Contract

Won't Rule Out Strike During Convention

Union leaders are declaring an impasse in their contract negotiations with the city. And they are refusing to rule out a possible strike, or sick-outs during the Republican National Convention.

N.J. Burkett reports from Madison Square Garden.

While the unions are refusing to rule out a strike here at the Republican National Convention in just couple of weeks, the fact is, they can not strike legally. But they've concluded that the next best thing is to embarrass Mayor Bloomberg -- with every breath he takes, and every move he makes.

When the mayor went to lunch on Wall Street on Tuesday, he had plenty of company. Dozens of New York City police officers who refused to let him be in peace. The mayor tried to ignore them, but the chanting and the jeering echoed through the streets.

Protesters Chanting: "Run away Mikey, run away! Run away Mikey, run away!"

N.J. Burkett: "Mayor, are you at an impasse with the police and fire departments?"

N.J. Burkett: "(We) had a nice lunch. Did you eat? You should eat here. The food's really very good."

The mayor refused to discuss the negotiations, but the police and the fire unions are furious.

Patrick Lynch, Police Union President: "We will continue to wake the mayor up in the morning, and put him to bed at night. We will follow him wherever he is."

At a news conference, union leaders set aside their differences, and refused to rule out picketing the Republican Convention at Madison Square Garden -- or even a job action.

Steve Cassidy, Uniformed Firefighters Assoc.: "The level of frustration among firefighters and police officers is so high, I can't account for what might happen."

Both unions have been working without a contract for two years. The city has proposed an eight percent raise over three years, and a $1,000 bonus, while demanding work rule concessions.

The unions refused to compromise on work rules, and want more than double the money.

Sgt. Gerald Walsh, NYPD: "We're not asking to get rich. We just want a livable salary. A fair wage."

A strike would be illegal. But experts say the unions' strategy to embarrass the mayor could be effective.

Ted Kheel, Labor Lawyer: "If it's legal, then it's an option that they have, which is designed to put pressure on the city to come to terms with them. They can't strike."

A spokesman for the mayor said:

"... it doesn't matter what tactics they use, the Mayor isn't going to be intimidated into making a bad deal for the City."

-- Ed Skyler, Spokesman

The mayor's spokesman said today that even hinting about a job action, amounted to what he called an 'implicit threat.' That is not the way, he said, to get a good contract.