New York 1 News

August 15, 2002

Thousands Of Police Officers Rally In Times Square For Bigger Raise

   

Thousands of New York's Finest and New York's Bravest descended on Times Square Thursday afternoon to rally for better pay.

The rally, which was organized by the Patrolman's Benevolent Association and the Uniformed Firefighters Association, was designed to bring attention to their contract demands.

After working without a contract since July of 2000, police officers are looking for a 23 percent raise over two years.

“These guys put their lives on the line for the people of New York City,” said one of the estimated 10,000 off-duty officers who showed up to the protest. “If it means you’ve got to raise their taxes, you’ve got to raise their taxes. That's the way it is.”

A state arbitration panel is proposing a two-year contract with annual 5 percent raises and shorter work days, but police officers would have to work an extra 10 days a year.

“We can't give you back 10 days and we deserve a raise. We definitely do,” said another officer. “We lost too many guys and we've shown you before September 11 that we've been working hard.”

Union leaders said officers put their lives on the line on September 11 and that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now breaking their hearts.

“That heart is being broken by a mayor who won't understand,” said PBA President Pat Lynch. “A mayor who refuses to help us feed our families and now wants us to leave them alone 10 more times a year. That's outrageous.”

On Wednesday, Bloomberg had already discounted the possibility of a pay raise, saying the money just isn’t there.

“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,” Bloomberg said. “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 protestors were joined by a number of elected officials, including Senator Hillary Clinton, who was unflinching in her criticism of the Bloomberg administration.

“I believe the firefighters deserve a raise, not just because of September 11, but for the work they do every day for the city,” Mrs. Clinton said. “But because of September 11, it is unconscionable that there would not be raises for police officers and firefighters. I don't believe there should be zeros for heroes.”

The union voted on Sunday to stage the rally 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.

Meanwhile, firefighters also took to the streets to push for pay raises. They've been working without a contract for 27 months and without a raise in 40 months.

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.”