August 23, 2004
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ays before the Republican National Convention, the city's police and fire unions are asking President Bush to intercede with Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg to help them win raises in their contract dispute.
At a news conference Monday with the World Trade Center site as a backdrop, the unions said they sent a letter to the president on Aug. 17 seeking his ``help and support.''
"This mayor does not respect the uniformed workers of the city ... and we want the president to understand what is going on," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.
The unions, which have not ruled out staging an illegal strike or sickout during the convention, have been working without a contract for more than two years. The four-day convention, in which Bush will be renominated, begins Aug. 30.
``As incredibly busy as you must be, it may have escaped your attention that New York City's police officers and firefighters -- the heroes of 9/11 -- are engaged in a bitter contract dispute with the city's Republican mayor,'' the letter says. ``For that reason, we are taking the unusual measure of writing to you to inform you of our predicament and to make a personal appeal for your help and support in the effort to correct what has become a perennial injustice inflicted on these crucial first-responders.''
In response, White House spokesman Ken Lisaius said: ``We encourage all parties to come to an agreement on this issue.''
Twenty-three police officers and 343 firefighters were killed on Sept. 11, 2001.
Bloomberg, who has maintained that the city cannot afford to give its workers large raises, dismissed the letter.