New York 1 News

August 15, 2002

Police Union Rallying In Times Square For Bigger Raise

The police union is rallying for bigger raises in Midtown Thursday afternoon, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg is already discounting the possibility.

Over 10,000 off-duty officers were expected to show up for the protest in Times Square, which began at noon. 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.

“The City of New York cannot afford not to pay these police officers,” Pat Lynch, president of the PBA, said on Wednesday. “The safety factor is what brought this city back from the thugs that owned the street corners just a few short years ago.”

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.”

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.

The PBA says it will send delagetes into the crowd to make sure order is maintained during the protest.

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.

Rank-and-file firefighters, who have been working without a contract for two years, are planning to join police for the Times Square rally. Both groups are appealed to the public in ads about the rally that citied the heroism of the departments in rescue efforts at the World Trade Center.

The firefighters’ union had reached a deal with the Giuliani administration before September 11 and members were close to ratifying it, but the terrorist attack put the contract on hold.

“We as firefighters and police officers ask [the mayor] to really take a look at what we’ve done,” said Joe Miccio, the recording secretary of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. “Maybe we’re not the most smartest guys in the world, but we care, we’re here.”