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Thread: FDNY Firefighters Rally for New Contract

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    FDNY Firefighters Rally for New Contract

    FDNY Firefighters Rally for New Contract

    LON SLEPICKA and HEATHER CASPI
    Firehouse.com News

    Although it was pouring rain in New York City's Central Park, thousands of FDNY union firefighters gathered there to protest their lack of a contract with the city and the low pay that they now receive. Many union firefighters from across the country joined them in support of the issues as they came to town for the annual FDNY Memorial Service for their fallen firefighters.

    Actor Steve Buscemi led off the event saying, "We can never thank you enough. We can never pay you enough." FDNY has not had a contract for the last 2

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    FNDY Firefighters Brave The Rain To Rally For New Contract

    FNDY Firefighters Brave The Rain To Rally For New Contract

    ALY SUJO, LORENA MONGELLI and LARRY CELONA
    Courtesy of The New York Post


    New York-- A little rain wasn't enough to put a damper on the spirits of thousands of firefighters expected to converged on Central Park Friday afternoon. The firefighters rallied for a new contract, after members of the firefighters' union rejected the latest offering from Mayor Bloomberg. The vote set the stage for a very public and vocal battle. NJ Burkett reports from Central Park with more. See Photos From The Story

    Firefighters were still arriving in the East Meadow of Central Park, where union leaders predicted as many as 10,000 would appear for a rally Friday afternoon. Less than 24 hours after rejecting the latest officer from the mayor, the message from every firefighter in New York is simply: Show us the money.

    They gathered on a huge stage in the East Meadow of Central Park Friday morning, where thousands of firefighters and their families were expected to stand in the rain and the mud to send a message to City Hall.

    New York City Firefighter: "Most of the firefighters in the Metropolitan area make a lot more money that the New York City firefighters do."

    Union delegates voted down the city's contract yesterday, which offered an 11.5 percent raise. Currently, a starting FDNY firefighter makes about $31,000 a year. That number moves to $55,000 after 20 years on the force. The city's last offer would have brought the starting salary to roughly $34,500 and bring the 20-year number closer to $61,300.

    The mayor has insisted that the proposed 11.5 percent raise is the most the city can afford. But firefighters say the attack on the World Trade Center changed everything.

    NJ Burkett, Eyewitness News: "Do you understand the city's argument? The city's argument is 'we don't have the money.'" New York City Firefighter: "Get it. We're going to war. Congress just gave the president permission this morning, didn't they? When they strike back, this is where they're striking and we're the ones responding. You have to fund us. You can't not fund your army."

    A union rally at ground zero last year got out of hand, leaving several firefighters and police officers injured. Security at Friday's rally seemed intended to prevent at similar confrontation.

    The question now: What do they want? One union delegates said they want at least what the teachers' union will get, 16 percent.

    As of early Friday afternoon, turnout at the rally was far less than expected.



    http://www.firehouse.com/news/2002/1...fdnyrally.html

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    N.Y. Firefighters Get Cold Shoulder on Wage Demands

    N.Y. Firefighters Get Cold Shoulder on Wage Demands;

    Dispute: Heroes of Sept. 11 attacks square off against the mayor over a contract. They want generous raises in times of fiscal constraint.

    Copyright 2002 / Los Angeles Times
    Los Angeles Times...10/11/2002

    JOSH GETLIN, TIMES STAFF WRITER

    They have been hailed as national heroes and honored as "New York's bravest." City leaders can't say enough about their firefighters, but giving them the hefty wage increase they want is another matter.

    In a dispute that has become highly embarrassing to the Big Apple, New York firefighters on Thursday rejected the city's latest wage offer, calling it inadequate. Tensions are likely to increase today, when thousands of them plan to hold a rally in Central Park, and then pack Madison Square Garden on Saturday for a special service honoring the 343 firefighters who died in the Sept. 11 attacks.

    "It's good that public officials come to our funerals and honor us for 9/11 heroism," said Steve Cassidy, who heads the Uniformed Firefighters Assn. "But we need a living wage. We deserve it--and we don't have it."

    New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who does not enjoy sparring with firefighters, insists his hands are tied by the city's looming $ 5-billion budget deficit. He has asked all city agencies, including the Fire Department, to prepare for deep cuts in next year's budget.

    Firefighters should not expect any miracles, he adds, at a time when the city may have to consider raising property taxes and increasing transit fares. But that does not stop him from praising the Fire Department..

    "For people all over the world, the acronym FDNY has come to stand for the ultimate in courage and professionalism," the mayor said last week as he swore in 228 probationary firefighters at Brooklyn College.

    "You now join a Fire Department that has earned its reputation as New York's bravest," he added, without mentioning the touchy issue of money.

    The 9,000 members of New York's Fire Department, the nation's largest, have worked without a contract for the last 27 months and have not had a raise in 40 months. Their pay is low compared with salaries earned by counterparts in other big cities, as well as in smaller towns surrounding New York.

    A rookie firefighter in New York City, for example, earns $ 32,724 annually, compared with $ 54,211 in Yonkers, a small town north of the city.

    The disparity is even more pronounced when it comes to New York City firefighters' rate of salary increase over the last five years compared with other jurisdictions with at least 1 million residents. New York has a 21.7% rate, trailing Los Angeles County (43.9%), the city of Los Angeles (40.3%), Chicago (39.8%), Philadelphia (36.9%) and Detroit (28.6%), according to a study by the International Assn. of Firefighters, based in Washington, D.C.

    Given their sacrifices on Sept. 11, New York firefighters say, the city should make a financial exception and give them a generous pay increase.

    "We're looking at special circumstances," said a firefighter standing outside a station house on Manhattan's Upper East Side, insisting on anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the negotiations. He gestured to photos of six colleagues who perished at the World Trade Center and shook his head, saying: "I can't believe they won't make us a decent offer."

    As the city's economic situation continues to deteriorate, however, some observers say the union might never get the deal it wants. New York's most recent offer, which was spurned by union delegates, called for an 11.5% increase over 30 months. Firefighters had been hoping for a raise along the lines of the 16% to 23% increases recently given to members of the politically powerful United Federation of Teachers.

    Bloomberg quickly criticized the 365-2 vote by UFA delegates against the city's proposal, cautioning union members that they should not expect any sudden burst of generosity, given the deepening fiscal crisis.

    "In a sense, their (firefighters') time has passed," said Chuck Brecher, research director for the Citizens Budget Commission, a watchdog group. "The discussion and the public is mainly focusing on the budget crisis."

    This is particularly galling to the firefighters, because they had kept a fairly low profile as Bloomberg approved separate wage deals with the teachers and the Policemen's Benevolent Assn. They postponed their consideration of the 11.5% offer, in fact, because it was made weeks before the terrorist attacks, and union leaders of the traumatized department said they needed a year of recovery before reentering the labor fray.

    Meanwhile, Cassidy and other union officials have locked horns with the city over other issues, including whether New York City equipped its firefighters with two-way radios that badly malfunctioned on Sept. 11, leading to the department's high death toll.

    "You know, we're not talking about breaking the bank with a pay raise," said Tom Butler, a spokesman for the firefighters' union. "This is a simple matter of equity for people who put their lives on the line every day."

    Many rookie firefighters, he said, cannot afford to raise a family in New York City on $ 32,724 a year. As a result, Butler added, they either put off starting a family or work second jobs.

    Beyond the economic hardships, he said, the department's low wage scale could make it increasingly difficult to recruit applicants in years ahead, especially from minority communities. The FDNY, which is 90% white male, is one of the least diverse big-city departments in the nation.

    Hours after the union vote, Bloomberg said "we are disappointed" at the firefighters' salary demands. He vowed that New York City leaders would continue to negotiate a wage package in good faith--but with no illusions.

    Yet Cassidy, who has been a firefighter since 1988, seems to be digging in for a long battle. He is banking that sympathy for the plight of New York firefighters will make a difference.

    "We have been showered with accolades," he said. "But these accolades do not feed families or pay mortgages. It's time to do the right thing."



    http://webpublisher.lexisnexis.com/i...-005Y-00000-00

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    BRAVEST UNION: WE'RE GETTING HO$ED BY CITY

    BRAVEST UNION: WE'RE GETTING HO$ED BY CITY

    By ALY SUJO, LORENA MONGELLI and LARRY CELONA

    October 11, 2002 -- New York's Bravest said "no" to the city's pay-raise offer yesterday, setting the stage for heated contract negotiations between firefighters and a city facing its most serious fiscal crisis in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

    Uniformed Firefighters Association delegates were nearly unanimous in voting down the city's offer of an 11.5 percent raise over 30 months, said UFA president Stephen Cassidy.

    "How do they expect firefighters to support their family when most of them qualify for food stamps?" Cassidy said at a press conference. "You can make more money flipping burgers."

    Delegates from the five boroughs voted 365 to 2 to reject the offer, and vowed to bring thousands of disgusted firefighters into Central Park at high noon today to demand a new contract.

    Rank-and-file firefighters have worked for more than two years without a raise or union contract.

    A recruit earns about $31,000 a year, and after 20 years, annual salaries can rise to about $55,000.

    The city has said it cannot afford a higher pay increase because it expects a $5 billion to $6 billion budget deficit next year.

    New York cops last month got a retroactive raise of 5 percent a year, as well as a 1.5 percent bonus for each officer in a three-year contract. Cops' starting salaries went up from $31,305 a year to $34,514, while top pay went up from $49,023 to $54,048.


    http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/49118.htm

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