June 8, 2004

City workers set to rally


Thousands of teachers, police officers and firefighters are expected to rally outside City Hall Tuesday to demand fair labor contracts with the Bloomberg administration.

The unions insist that the contract approved last week by District Council 37 is not fair to workers. It had a $1,000 taxable bonus in the first year, a 3 percent wage hike the second year and a 2 percent raise in the third year, which will begin July 1, 2004.

The teachers and uniformed unions, who had been feuding just a year ago over funding a health care program, have now united to try to break the pattern set by DC 37 when it approved the contract.

The United Federation of Teachers, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the Uniformed Firefighters Association organized the rally, but workers from other unions are expected to attend as well.

The three unions took out full-page ads in most city newspapers yesterday telling Mayor Michael Bloomberg that if he can't pay them what they're worth, "He should at least pay them what's fair."

There is tremendous pressure on both the city and the leadership of the teachers and uniformed unions because the workers can shift to the suburbs and get better pay, according to Stanley Aronowitz, a professor of sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Bloomberg reiterated yesterday that the DC 37 deal set the pattern. "Well, the major labor union in this city has already come to an agreement and their settlement .... has been ratified by, I think, 89 percent of their members," he said.

The rally is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. in City Hall Park. Teachers union president Randi Weingarten also will lead a march across the Brooklyn Bridge to join the rally.

Staff writer Dan Janison contributed to this story.