New York Daily News

August 17, 2002

You asked for it, Mike tells cops


One day after thousands of cops and firefighters descended on Times Square to rally for better pay, Mayor Bloomberg told cops: You made your bed. Now, lie in it.

"They didn't want to negotiate with [former Mayor Rudy] Giuliani, and they certainly didn't want to negotiate with my administration for seven months. They insisted on going to binding arbitration," Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show on WABC-770 AM.

"They got themselves in a situation where win, lose or draw - when you go to binding arbitration - you have to live with it."

Al O'Leary, a spokesman for the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, accused the mayor of "revisionist history."

"We've been willing and open to negotiations since the Giuliani administration and have been stonewalled continually right through this Monday," he said.

O'Leary said James Hanley, who heads the city Office of Labor Relations, told PBA President Patrick Lynch on Monday that the city wasn't interested in negotiating.

Bloomberg told Lynch the same thing last week, O'Leary said.

While the city and the PBA can negotiate until the state arbitration panel issues a ruling, Bloomberg spokesman Ed Skyler confirmed that won't happen.

"It's too late - you can't have your cake and eat it, too," he said.

Given the city's fiscal crisis, Bloomberg said, cops should be "reasonably happy" with a draft report from the arbitrators that would give them 5% raises each of the next two years, plus an additional 3 1/2% for working 10 extra days a year. The union is seeking a 23% raise.

"The trouble they're having is they made a bet that the binding arbitration would give them more money than they could have gotten through negotiation. I don't know - and we'll never know - whether that is the case," Bloomberg said. "But once you go to binding arbitration, you don't have any choice - you got to accept what it is and get on with it."

An estimated 15,000 demonstrators gathered in Times Square on Thursday to hear Lynch predict "doom" for the NYPD unless the city meets his union's pay demands.

He blasted Bloomberg on Thursday as someone "who counts money as more important than lives."

The mayor said yesterday that he's sympathetic.

"I know they want to make more. Everybody wants to make more. And I would love to pay them more if we had it. The fact of the matter is . . . there's nothing the city can do about this," he said.