New York 1 News

August 12, 2002

Mayor Dismisses Large Raise As Police Union Prepares To Rally

As the police union prepares to rally for a bigger raise, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is discounting the possibility.

Over 10,000 off-duty officers are expected to show up for the protest at in Times Square at noon on Thursday. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which represents over 24,000 uniformed officers who have been without a contract since June 2000, is seeking a 23 percent raise over two years, but a state arbitrator, responding to the union’s petition, is reportedly poised to rule for five percent annual raises in a two-year contract.

On the eve of the demonstration, the mayor said that he sympathizes with the police officers but that the money they want just isn’t there.

"They're frustrated,” Bloomberg said. “They would like more; I'd like to pay them more. But we have a $5 billion deficit, and, as you know, I’ve asked every department to cut their budget by another seven and a half percent. And when we do that, that will only take off 20 percent of our budget deficit, so we are going to have some tough times.”

The union voted on Sunday to stage the rally, hours after Bloomberg ruled out using September 11 federal relief funds to pay for a raise. Some officers have threatened to stage a wildcat strike, which would be illegal, by calling out sick en masse on Labor Day or on September 11.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was with the mayor Wednesday, but he did not comment on the labor dispute, only saying that the Police Department will be fully staffed with active officers during Thursday’s rally.