Newsday
August 11, 2004

Mayor: Unions will not intimidate city

BY GLENN THRUSH AND WILLIAM MURPHY Staff Writers

Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday offered police and firefighters 8 or 9 percent raises tied to productivity increases while vowing "not to be intimidated" by threats they'd stage work actions during the Republican National Convention later this month.

Bloomberg, who has been shadowed by a protest posse of uniformed workers during recent public appearances, is asking the unions for longer work weeks or lower pay for academy recruits.

On Tuesday, Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, and Steven Cassidy, leader of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said they couldn't guarantee members won't strike -- or stage a stealthy "Blue Flu" sick-out. Both actions are illegal under state law.

"You can rest assured that I will not be intimidated by anything," Bloomberg said after dedicating a new housing complex at Brooklyn's Fort Hamilton military base. "We're not going to go and commit this city to wage settlements we simply cannot afford because one group believes it can embarrass the mayor.

"The mayor's a little bit tougher than that," he said.

A Bloomberg aide said the wage hikes will cover the next several years and would be in exchange for "a longer work day and less money for the guys in the police academy."

PBA spokesman Joseph Mancini dismissed the offer.

"The city's exaggerating," he said. "The concessions are worth a lot more than what the members would be getting back.

The PBA is willing to negotiate until they get some realistic offers. Right now there's an impasse."

The UFA's Website posted a statement reading, "In a bargaining session held on Friday, Aug. 6 the city did not offer 8 percent, but instead offered New York's Firefighters 4 percent over three years."

The Sergeant's Benevolent Association ran ads yesterday accusing "our billionaire mayor" of being "out of touch." On Tuesday, a union member taunted Bloomberg press secretary Ed Skyler for getting a raise. Skyler's salary went from $162,000 to $171,000.

Yesterday, protesters serenaded the mayor with "give us our pay, we'll go away" as he appeared in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The mayor, surrounded by a heavier-than-usual security detail, smiled amicably and walked away.