New York Daily News

January 10, 2004

Mike: Unions don't deserve bigger piece of pie

By MICHAEL SAUL
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU

Municipal unions shouldn't expect any handouts until they earn them through contract givebacks, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday.

Bloomberg said he proposed giving homeowners a $400 rebate on property tax bills because "these are the people that stood up when the going got tough and we needed help."

"So they're getting help now," Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show. "Now, what you'll see is other people screaming, 'Oh, I'm not getting anything back now.' Yeah, well, you know, when you do something and help us ... then, afterward, you can get it back."

Ed Skyler, the mayor's press secretary, confirmed Bloomberg was talking about municipal unions.

"The taxpayers ... stepped up to the plate and bailed the city out of the fiscal crisis," Skyler said. "The unions still haven't made any sacrifices."

Randi Weingarten, president of the teachers' union and head of the Municipal Labor Committee, an umbrella group, said the city has the money to give raises to workers and a property tax rebate.

"Many of our members are homeowners in the city who pay property taxes and would be glad to see a rebate," Weingarten said. "The municipal unions will not allow the mayor to drive a wedge between city workers and city homeowners."

Given the rebound in the economy, the mayor's call for productivity-based raises is no longer viable, union leaders said.

"The mayor is fond of saying that he wishes he could pay New York City's police officers more," Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said. "Now that the economy is turning around, evidenced by a well-deserved real estate rebate, we'll see if he is sincere."