New York Post
August 21, 2004


City Hall Bureau Chief

-It's getting personal between Mayor Bloomberg and the leaders of the police and firefighter unions.

The mayor charged yesterday that the contract stalemate between the city and cops and firefighters is due, in part, to the "cushy jobs" held by police-union president Patrick Lynch and fire-union chief Steve Cassidy.

"They get paid by the Police Department and paid by the union, and they just don't want to lose 'em, and that's what you see here," the mayor said from Athens during his weekly WABC radio show. "They lead from the back of the pack, not the front."

Leaders of municipal unions receive dual paychecks, one from the city and another from the union they run.

Aides said Lynch and Cassidy each earn slightly more than $100,000, modest by the standards of major unions. The aides stressed that the union portions of their salaries don't count toward their pensions.

But administration sources added, "We know they have expense accounts."

Cassidy told The Post the mayor was trying to divert attention from an "insulting" wage offer of 4.17 percent over three years.

"The mayor is making this a personal attack because he doesn't want to debate the real issue," said Cassidy.

The fire-union boss also said his job was far from cushy.

"It's just an outright false allegation," Cassidy declared.

Lynch described Bloomberg as a "billionaire mayor who doesn't understand what a working person goes through who has to work a full day without getting a fair day's pay."

Cops and firefighters have been working without contracts for more than two years.

The ratcheted-up rhetoric came after the unions ran newspaper ads of Bloomberg as Pinocchio with an elongated nose, telling fibs about the city's offers at the negotiating table.

Some labor insiders say the two sides are in a bind because the city extracted deep concessions from civilian unions that the uniformed-union leaders would have a hard time selling to their members.

Among other facts, District Council 37, the largest municipal union, accepted a lower pay scale for new employees in its ranks.

The mayor indicated he's not about to budge from his demand for productivity gains from every union seeking more than the basic contract package.

A "change to some work rules" would allow him to boost police and firefighter salaries up to 8 percent "very quickly," said Bloomberg.

He also warned that outside pressure - such as the kind that won a 14.5 percent hike over four years for Boston cops - wouldn't work here.

"Boston is a different story," Bloomberg said. "I think it was taken out of the mayor's hands and imposed on them. In New York, this is up to the city. Nor will we ever get pressure from the state government or the federal government.

"This is an issue for New York City's citizens. They hire the mayor to negotiate for them. There isn't a third party here."