New York Daily News

August 13, 2002

Cops, Firefighters to Rally in Times Square

Daily News City Hall Bureau

Thousands of cops and firefighters will crowd Times Square Thursday afternoon to gather support for their pay hike battle, union officials for the NYPD and FDNY said yesterday.

Firefighters and cops who worked at Ground Zero will be joined at the event by construction union members who worked alongside them on the rescue and recovery effort, officials said yesterday.

"We were there for the City of New York, and we want the City of New York to be there for us now," said John Flynn, Manhattan trustee for the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy will be standing next to PBA President Patrick Lynch as a sign of solidarity. The UFA will have to negotiate its own contract in the coming months.

"Firefighters will join with our brother police officers to let our elected officials know that we can not be treated as second- class citizens any longer," Cassidy said last night.

"Every single firefighter that died on 9/11 was working without a contract for over five months, and yet not one of them hesitated to do the right thing," he added.

In a full-page ad scheduled to run tomorrow in the Daily News, the PBA and UFA are urging the public to come out in support of bigger contracts for the Sept. 11 heroes, said PBA spokesman Joseph Mancini.

Pols invited

"Now we need your support," says the ad, which features a photo of a cop and firefighter pulling News photographer David Handschuh to safety Sept. 11.

There will be a sound stage set up in Times Square for the rally, and the unions are inviting all local politicians to attend.

PBA officials said that Times Square, the crossroads of the world, was chosen because it symbolizes the role cops have played in transforming the city.

"Times Square used to be all peep shows and drug dealers. Now it's full of tourists and you have Disney there," said John Giangrasso, a PBA officer who is financial secretary for Brooklyn North. "We cleaned up Times Square. If that doesn't speak for the performance of police, I don't know what does."

City cops - who have been without a contract since June 2000 - have threatened to walk off the job on Labor Day. They were reportedly frustrated by a report in The News that an arbitration panel is poised to rule that police officers should get raises of only 5% per year.