Record Online

City cops, firefighters cite 9/11, demand raise

August 16, 2012
The Associated Press


New York – Invoking the sacrifices made on Sept. 11, thousands of off-duty police officers and firefighters jammed Times Square yesterday to pressure the city to meet demands for higher pay.

"This proud police department and fire department are on the verge of death – death from a broken heart, a heart that cried on Sept. 11," Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, told the demonstrators.

The crowd, which included members of construction unions, was loud but peaceful during the two-hour "rally for heroes" organized by the PBA and the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

Police declined to give an official crowd estimate, but the police and fire unions put the number at 15,000. Some chanted, "Too much praise, too little raise," and carried placards saying, "They say, 'Never forget.' We say, 'Already forgotten.'"

"All of these politicians were at Ground Zero talking about how much we were worth," said Brooklyn firefighter Kevin Roth, who was part of the throng. "Eleven months later, it's business as usual. How many more guys have to die?"

A stage was set up at 42nd Street and Broadway for appearances by James Gandolfini, who plays New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano on the HBO series "The Sopranos," the Radio City Rockettes and politicians.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was greeted by a mix of cheers and boos.

"I believe that the police officers are entitled to a raise – not just because of Sept. 11, but because of every single day," she said, echoing the sentiment for firefighters.

PBA members – whose contract expired on July 31, 2000 – have been upset over recent reports that a state arbitration panel might sign off on a two-year contract that could include an increase in work days.

Reports said the contract would also include annual 5 percent raises; the PBA wants a 23 percent pay hike over two years.

The starting salary for New York City police officers is $31,305.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he would like to pay police and firefighters more but is hampered by a $5 billion shortfall in the city budget.

UFA spokesman Tom Butler said that union had been without a contract for 27 months and without a pay raise in 40 months.

"Our firefighters are not given a living wage, our firefighters cannot afford to live in New York," he said. "These men and women risk their lives every day for a pauper's wage."

The starting salary for New York firefighters is $32,724.

Starting salaries for police officers

New York City: $31,305
Seattle: $46,146
Irvine, Calif.: $46,463
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: $39,686

City of Middletown: $36,982
City of Port Jervis: $36,733
City of Newburgh: $30,742
City of Monticello: $35,803