New York Daily News

August 11, 2004

Cop, fire strikes looming for RNC

By FRANK LOMBARDI DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU

    Mayoral spokesman Ed Skyler
  Mayoral spokesman Ed Skyler blasts union 'thugs' as Finest, Bravest rally at City Hall yesterday.

The city could be crippled by wildcat strikes by cops and firefighters during the Republican convention — and union leaders said yesterday they may not be able to stop it.

"The level of frustration among firefighters and police officers is so high, I can't account for what might happen," fumed Stephen Cassidy, president of the 8,500-member Uniformed Firefighters Association.

"We will rule nothing off the table," added Patrick Lynch, president of the 23,000-member Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

At a press conference on the steps of City Hall, the two union bosses also vowed to continue hounding Mayor Bloomberg at public events because of his refusal to pay them more than other city workers.

Ed Skyler, the mayor's press secretary, blasted the unions for "acting like thugs." The union leaders have a right to protest, Skyler said, but not to "try to send a message to their members about 'We don't know if we can control what they do.'"

Cassidy argued that Bloomberg is treating cops and firefighters "no different than people that push paper."

Noting that 343 firefighters died on 9/11, Cassidy added, "He can't show up at the funerals and tell their widows their husbands are heroes and not pay us a fair wage when we're alive."

Bloomberg has been dogged by union protesters for weeks. Scores shouted insults at him outside a Greenwich Village meeting Monday night.

Dozens of demonstrators also showed up yesterday morning outside four network TV studios that broadcast national shows.

Cassidy announced he has formally filed an impasse declaration with the state Public Employment Relation Board. He urged the mayor to make a fair offer or agree to binding arbitration. He said the city has offered firefighters raises of 4% over three years.

City officials insist the city lacks the money to pay fire and police union members more than what's in the pact accepted by District Council 37, the largest municipal union. It calls for a $1,000 signing bonus, plus raises of 3% the first year and 2% the second.