New York Daily News

August 14, 2004

Union bigs scared Mike

BY DAVID SALTONSTALL
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU CHIEF

Mayor Bloomberg came up with a new theory yesterday to explain why police and fire union leaders won't broker new contracts: They're scared.

"The trouble is that the leaders of their unions are afraid to go back and even discuss [recent wage offers] with [members]," Bloomberg said. "Because these are unions that have a history of throwing out their leaders."

The unions have been organizing nearly daily protests against the mayor, and his comments yesterday ignited a new round of bickering.

Patrick Lynch, president of the 23,000-member Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said the union told members of city offers by both E-mail and mail: "They know exactly the insult that the mayor is passing across the table."

Lynch also blasted Bloomberg's assertion that the PBA suffers from revolving-door leadership. Lynch has been president for five years, and his predecessor served for 15.

Stephen Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, was elected in 2002 after members tossed out seven top officers, in part because of frustration over stalled contract talks.

Cassidy also dismissed City Hall's latest offer, which he put at 4% over three years.

Both the police and fire unions have declared an impasse in their talks with the city and are seeking binding arbitration before a state panel.

Bloomberg suggested they want to avoid responsibility for the outcome.

"There is the argument that if the arbitration panel forces them to do something, the union leader can say, 'Well guys, you know I fought the good battle. It's taken away from us.' It's a bit disingenuous," he said.

Both Lynch and Cassidy denied the charge, saying they sought mediation only after the city refused to budge.