New York 1 News

August 18, 2004

Mayor Says He Doesn't Hold Grudge Against Police, Fire Unions

“No hard feelings" - that's what Mayor Michael Bloomberg had to say to the police and firefighters unions Friday, after being heckled several times in recent days over an ongoing contract dispute.

   

Despite ongoing protests conducted by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Uniformed Firefighters Association, and the threat of a possible sick-out during this month’s Republican National Convention, the mayor says the city just cannot afford to pay what these unions want.

On his weekly radio show this afternoon, the mayor said the city has an offer on the table, but union leaders don't want to take it to their members.

“The trouble is that the leaders of the union are afraid to go back and even discuss it with them, because these are unions that have a history of throwing out their leaders with monotonous regularity,” said Bloomberg.

The PBA and UFA have each turned down deals similar to ones already accepted by several other city unions; a $1,000 lump sum payment plus an eight-percent pay hike.

In the escalating contract dispute with the city, the police and firefighter unions say they won’t rule out strikes or sickouts during the Republican National Convention, even though a work stoppage would be illegal.

The firefighters’ union announced Tuesday that talks with the city have reached an impasse, and it is now seeking mediation like the police union.

Members of both unions have been shadowing Mayor Michael Bloomberg at his public events and heckling him. On Tuesday, they held up signs outside the street-side windows of several network morning TV shows, and they rallied on the steps of City Hall.

“The mayor is pushing our members,” said Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch. “We want to keep control of our members as we move forward, but the frustration level is high. He's being irresponsible by trying to make one deal fits all when it doesn't solve the problem we have to fix as we move forward."

The unions, which have been working without contract for two years, want a new deal with raises and better benefits. The mayor says the city can’t afford their demands and has offered them roughly the same deal that several other city unions have already accepted: a $1,000 lump sum payment plus an 8 percent pay hike.

But the fire and police unions say they deserve more because their jobs are more dangerous.

“Mike Bloomberg says we are no different than people who push paper,” said Stephen Cassidy, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. “That's a joke. It's a disgrace, and it's an insult to firefighters and police officers who risk their lives every day."

A spokesperson says the mayor isn't going to be intimidated into making a bad deal for the city.