New York 1 News

June 8, 2004

Police, Firefighters, Teachers Team Up To Rally For New Contracts

Thousands of teachers, police officers and firefighters rallied in City Hall Park Tuesday to demand new contracts with the city.

Cops    

Union members and supporters marched from the Brooklyn Marriott Hotel, over the Brooklyn Bridge, to City Hall Park this afternoon to get their message across to Mayor Michael Bloomberg that they want a raise and other benefits.

“The message is that firefighters, police officers and teachers deserve to be treated fairly and compensated fairly,” said Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steven Cassidy. “Firefighters risk their lives every single day. What we’ve done before, what we did on 9/11, we’ll continue to do for this city. All we want is to be treated fair. Pay a fair wage.”

“The people of New York have been great. The support’s been great,” said the NYPD’s Pat Smith. “It’s just a money issue now, and it’s between us and the city.”

“We’re doing a lot more with a lot less officers, and we’re still doing it with the same desire we had before,” said a protestor. “We deserve a fair contract and a fair raise.”

“The mayor on one hand is telling the financial community and Wall Street that everything’s great and invest in the city - which apparently it is when he’s planning to give $400 rebates to everybody in the city, which amounts $1.10 a person per day – yet he’ll tell all the municipal workers, like the firemen, cops and teachers, that he can’t give anybody any raises,” said another demonstrator. “It’s been three years now, so that’s not exactly negotiating in good faith.”

“It’s hard to compare one union to the next, as the city has done. They put us in a lump sum,” said another protestor. “We are all very different, and that’s why today you are going to have the finest, the brightest and the bravest all together.”

Mayor Bloomberg says he would like to raise workers’ pay, but he says he can’t because of the city’s estimated $4 billion budget deficit.

The mayor also chastised the unions for continuing to hold rallies rather than hammering out a new contract with the city.

“Coming to the bargaining table rather than protesting…they’d probably do a lot better,” said Bloomberg. “I will say that I’m thrilled to read to in the paper that our bravest and our finest are going to protest together; who said there was a battle of the badges? It shows they really can cooperate.”

The police and fire unions have been without a contract for two years, and the teachers’ contract expired a year ago.