Channel 2: WCBS News

August 15, 2002


Cops Rally For Raise

  • Rally Cry In Times Square: "Too much praise, Too little raise"
  • NYPD Has Been Working Without Contract For Two Years


(AP)-(NEW YORK)-Thousands of off-duty police officers and firefighters packed Times Square on Thursday to demand better pay in the wake of the massive recovery effort at the World Trade Center.

"All of these politicians were at ground zero talking about how much we were worth," said Brooklyn firefighter Kevin Roth. "Eleven months later, it's business as usual."

Roth and other demonstrators turned out in force for a "rally for heroes," organized by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the Uniformed Firefighters Association. Some chanted, "Too much praise, Too little raise," and carried placards saying, "They say, 'Never forget,' We say, `Already forgotten."'

A stage was set up at 42nd Street and Broadway for appearances by union officials, celebrities and politicians who spoke of the sacrifices made on Sept. 11.

"There are many people who want to see us fail," said PBA President Patrick Lynch. "But we carry with us the memories of the police officers and the firefighters who have given their lives over the years."

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was greeted by a mix of cheers and boos.

"I believe that the police officers are entitled to a raise -- not just because of Sept. 11, but because of every single day," she said.

PBA spokesman Al O'Leary said 14,000 uniformed officers covered by a contract that expired on July 31, 2000 were upset over recent reports that a state arbitration panel might sign off on a two-year contract that could include an increase in work days.

Reports said the contract would also include annual 5 percent raises; the PBA wants a 23 percent pay hike over two years.

O'Leary said his office had gotten calls from officers who said their requests to take a vacation day to attend the rally had been denied.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said some requests had to be turned down over concerns of maintaining an adequate police force.

UFA spokesman Tom Butler said that union had been without a contract for 27 months and without a pay raise in 40 months.

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

The PBA has posted law enforcement job openings from around the country on its Web site to highlight the differences between the salaries of its officers with those in other cities. The link to the job openings began appearing on the Web site Monday night. The starting salaries for the positions listed are generally higher than the $31,305 New York City police officers earn. In Seattle, the starting salary is listed as $46,146; $46,463 in Irvine, Calif.; $37,079 in Jackson, Wyo.; and $39,686 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The starting salary for New York firefighters is $32,724.