August 11, 2004
In the escalating contract dispute with the city, the police and firefighter unions say they won’t rule out strikes or sickouts during the Republican National Convention, even though a work stoppage would be illegal.
The firefighters’ union announced Tuesday that talks with the city have reached an impasse, and it is now seeking mediation like the police union.
Members of both unions have been shadowing Mayor Michael Bloomberg at his public events and heckling him. On Tuesday, they held up signs outside the street-side windows of several network morning TV shows, and they rallied on the steps of City Hall.
“The mayor is pushing our members,” said Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch. “We want to keep control of our members as we move forward, but the frustration level is high. He's being irresponsible by trying to make one deal fits all when it doesn't solve the problem we have to fix as we move forward."
The unions, which have been working without contract for two years, want a new deal with raises and better benefits. The mayor says the city can’t afford their demands and has offered them roughly the same deal that several other city unions have already accepted: a $1,000 lump sum payment plus an 8 percent pay hike.
But the fire and police unions say they deserve more because their jobs are more dangerous.
“Mike Bloomberg says we are no different than people who push paper,” said Stephen Cassidy, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. “That's a joke. It's a disgrace, and it's an insult to firefighters and police officers who risk their lives every day."
A spokesperson says the mayor isn't going to be intimidated into making a bad deal for the city.