New York Daily News

August 20, 2004

Swipes across the sea

Frank Lombardi and Michael Saul DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

Mayor Bloomberg and the police and fire unions kept up their contracts battle - even though they were separated by 5,000 miles.

The day's first shot across the bow were full-page newspaper ads taken out by a coalition of seven public safety unions depicting the mayor with a Pinocchio-like nose and accusing him of lying about the labor fight.

Halfway across the globe, during a visit to Athens for the Olympics, Bloomberg dismissed the ads as: "Good for the economy. Good for the economy."

Union leaders set up a mock bargaining table near the City Hall gates, with an empty chair for the "jet-setting" mayor.

They said a new contract could be hammered out "in 44 hours" if the mayor personally came to the bargaining table.

"He's a businessman," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. "He knows in times of crisis you need to sit down and put the heads together and come up with a resolve."

Stephen Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, urged the mayor to "come to the table" with a fair contract offer or "step out of the way" and let state arbitrators set new contracts.

Bloomberg insisted the unions wouldn't fare better with binding arbitration than through a negotiated agreement.