New York 1 News

July 23, 2004

Police, Firefighters Take To The Streets In Battle For New Contract

The city's police and firefighters are taking their battle for a new contract to the streets, as both departments fight for higher wages and better benefits.

Picket    

The unions for both groups on Friday unveiled two truck-mounted billboards that will travel around the city for the next week.

Contract negotiations between Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration and both unions have come to a standstill.

“The Republicans are coming to town hosted by a Republican mayor, and he wants to wrap himself in the heroes of 9/11. We want the public to know that this mayor is not taking care of those people,” said Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch.

Police and firefighters began what their leaders call "informational picketing" Monday outside Madison Square Garden.

They've succeeded in getting the mayor's attention, but he says the pickets won't help negotiations. He says they are just a case of union politics.

"A lot of this is not driven by what the union members want. It's driven by union leaders who are running for re-election all the time and they've got to show that they're stronger than everybody else and so they go out there and yell and scream and it has to do with the internal politics," said Bloomberg. “Let’s change leadership of these unions and put in people who care about these people and sit down and find a way to generate productivity savings so that we can pay our municipal workers more.”

Union leaders have not ruled out the possibility that the pickets will continue when the Republicans come to town in late August for their national convention.

Police and firefighters have been working without a contract for two years, while teachers have been without one for a year.