May 7, 2004
By Mark Daly
Plans by police and fire unions to rally outside the Republican National Convention in August are likely to harm their efforts to get new labor contracts, Mayor Bloomberg said last week.
“Going and protesting to the Republicans and saying that the city isn’t paying as much as everybody would like is just theater,” the Mayor remarked during an April 28 news conference.
‘Hurts City’s Image’
“It doesn’t go in the direction of getting a good contract,” he added, suggesting it would hurt the city’s image as it seeks to attract visitors and new business. “All you do is you make it more difficult for this city to have the revenues to go to pay for municipal workers.”
The PBA and the Uniformed Firefighters’ Association have filed a joint application with the police Department to hold daily rallies from Aug. 29 through Sept. 2 outside the GOP convention at Madison Square Garden and at five other locations in the city where delegates will be gathering.
The rallies will call for Mr. Bloomberg to break the logjam in the union’ contract talks, said the chief spokesman for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Al O’Leary. He brushed off the Mayor’s remarks.
“We understand why a Republican Mayor would not want to see police officers and firefighters, the heroes of 9/11, in the national spotlight, delivering a message that a republican is not taking proper care of them,” Mr. O’Leary said.
Say Talks Stalled
The PBA has filed for arbitration in its contract dispute with the city, claiming talks are stalled by the city’s refusal to budge from its insistence that any increase in wages should be funded by concessions elsewhere. The president of the Uniformed Firefighters’ Association, Stephen J. Cassidy, has complained of seeing little movement in his own contract talks.
The unions for the NYPD’s Sergeants, Lieutenants and Captains have pledged their support in organizing rallies in August, as has the Uniformed Fire Officers’ Association, Mr. O’Leary said. The unions believe they can boost attendance at the rallies to 20,000 – almost the size of the PBA alone – by drawing from neighboring police unions, national affiliates, and retirees’ associations.
The unions may also go to Boston at the end of July during the Democratic National Convention to aid the Boston police union, which is locked in a similar pay dispute with Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, said Mr. O’Leary.