New York 1 News

August 10, 2004

Firefighters, Police Protest Outside TV Studios

City firefighters and police officers aired their contract complaints in front of a national audience Tuesday, protesting outside the street-side studios of several morning TV shows.

   

The Uniformed Firefighters Association also said its talks with the city are at an impasse, and the union is requesting mediation. The Public Employment Relations Board has already declared that the police union's negotiations with the city have reached an impasse

Members of the fire and police unions, who have been working without a contract for two years, held up signs outside the windows of three networks, calling for a new deal with higher pay and benefits.

“We need the media attention,” said Brent Robson of the NYPD. “What's a better way than to be out here on national television and let everybody know that we're out here looking for a fair raise.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city doesn’t have enough money for increases unless they are offset by givebacks or productivity increases.

“We're not asking for a lot of money,” said Donald Ruland of the firefighters’ union. “Your average 20-year New York City police officer or firefighter has a net pay of $1,000 every two weeks. A 10 percent raise would be $100. The offer on the table isn't even remotely close to that. It's absurd. It's insulting for the sacrifice that both police officers and firefighters make every day of the week.”

The protestors found sympathizers among the out-of-towners who also came to see the TV shows.

“I'm not sure what they're paid, but if they feel they need more money – I think we live in a country where we have freedom of speech, and I think they should be able to do this,” said one tourist. “And it's great that they were smart enough to do it on national camera.”

“The reason that we feel safe enough to come to New York,” another visitor said, “is because of the police and firemen.”

Police and firefighters have been following the mayor recently and heckling him as he arrives at various public events. Along with teachers, they have held what they call informational picketing sessions at Madison Square Garden, and they have also threatened to protest during the Republican National Convention later this month.

On Monday, police officers and firefighters made their demands loud and clear outside a community board meeting the mayor was attending in Greenwich Village.

“We are going to let the public know, the nation know that firefighters and cops haven’t had a contract for two years,” said Stephen Cassidy, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. “It’s unacceptable. The heroes of 9/11 deserve to be treated better. We're not going to take it.”