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Thread: Heroes All Fired Up

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    Heroes All Fired Up

    HEROES ALL FIRED UP

    By JOE McGURK

    October 12, 2002 -- Broke city firefighters had a huge outpouring of support yesterday when cops, politicians and celebrities staged a rally in a rainy Central Park to protest their low pay.

    "New York City firefighters shouldn't be the lowest paid in the nation - it's a crime," actor Steve Buscemi, a former firefighter who worked in Little Italy during the 1980s, told a crowded rally of about 5,000 people.

    "They really can't afford to live."

    Firefighter Michael Billotto said he and his co-workers haven't had a pay raise in four years and said many of them are having trouble supporting their families.

    "We're not out here for charity - we're out here for a fair wage," said Billotto.

    "I'm tired of telling my wife and kid I can't afford things."

    The rally turned into an angry, fist-pumping protest when Uniformed Firefighters Association president Steve Cassidy took the stage.

    "Don't come to our funerals and tell widows their husbands are heroes," he cried. "Pay us a fair wage."

    The association this week rejected a city pay raise offer of 11.5 percent. Cassidy won't say how much more the union wants, but firefighters hope it's at least close to the 22 percent teachers got this year.

    Despite widespread praise for the FDNY since the Sept. 11 attacks, the city is facing a crisis-level deficit of more than $5 billion and won't offer the FDNY more.

    "This is a f - - - ing joke," said salty-mouthed comedian Denis Leary, star of the TV show "The Job."

    "You can take the 11 percent and stick it up your a - -. It's time for a raise, or else we'll come to City Hall and knock down the f - - - ing door and get what we want."

    A contract that expired 29 months ago gave rookie firefighters $32,724 a year and says veterans who put in 20 years can only hope to take home base pay of $49,023.

    A contract proposal rejected by the UFA was first offered by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and approved by union leaders before the Sept. 11 attack delayed a vote.

    Another round of talks is scheduled for next week.



    http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/23337.htm


    FLAGGING SPIRITS:
    Firefighter Ray McNamara and daughter Jenny, 10, endure the rain at yesterday's Central Park demonstration (above), where celebs such as Susan Sarandon voiced their support.
    - M. Altaffer

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    Firefighters Rally to Demand Higher Pay

    Firefighters Rally to Demand Higher Pay
    By ALAN FEUER


    Ed Walsh says he cannot afford to buy a house. Lenny Cimadomo says that to get by, he works as a roofer to supplement his city wages. And Dan Archbold says that after 20 years on the job, he still has not saved any money in the bank.

    The three were among hundreds of city firefighters who came out yesterday to stand in the rain in Central Park during a rally to protest their pay, joined by politicians and movie stars who turned out to support them. There were also dozens of wet signs saying things like "A million thanks doesn't pay a mortgage" and "I'm an N.Y.C. fireman. I can't afford an umbrella."

    The members of the Fire Department of New York have been working without a contract for 29 months, and if the rally was any measure, they have become an angry lot. They shouted and clapped and shook their fists each time another speaker took the microphone to urge Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to increase their salaries. Praise for running into burning buildings was one thing, they said, but a bigger monthly check would also be nice.

    The rally came one day after the Uniformed Firefighters Association rejected a city proposal to increase wages by 11.5 percent over 30 months. Mr. Bloomberg said on his weekly radio program yesterday that he wished the city could offer more, but could not because of its budget woes. He added that firefighters' salaries were higher than they appeared because of contract provisions like overtime guarantees.

    "It's not adequate, it's not great, but it's better" than what firefighters portray as their starting pay, Mr. Bloomberg said.

    A firefighter's starting salary is about $32,000 a year. Rookie police officers, by contrast, now earn about $34,500 a year, after a state arbitration panel awarded the officers an 11.75 percent increase last month. New public school teachers earn $39,000 under a contract announced in June.

    "Don't tell us you respect us," Stephen J. Cassidy, the president of the firefighters' union said. "Don't come to our funerals and tell our widows that their husbands are heroes. Just pay us a fair wage."

    No one joins the Fire Department looking to get rich, Mr. Cassidy admitted. At the same time, he said, he will fight for a wage increase so that firefighters can stay home with their families on their days off instead of working at second jobs.

    The rally seemed to center on a few broad themes, like the idea that actions speak louder than words. Another was that a firefighter's wages are low enough that many are forced to find supplementary work. That was seized upon by the actor Steve Buscemi, who once worked as a firefighter at Engine Company 55 in Little Italy.

    "I don't want to see any more firefighter/bartenders or firefighter/contractors," Mr. Buscemi said. "You should just be firefighters."

    At a rally of firefighters, one is likely to smell cigar smoke, see men sneaking sips of canned beer and hear people egging on the speakers with phrases like "Giddyap!" or "Do the right thing!"

    There may also be profanity and anger

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    Angry Bravest rally for raises

    Angry Bravest rally for raises

    By AUSTIN FENNER, KERRY BURKE and MIKE CLAFFEY
    DAILY NEWS WRITERS


    Thousands of soggy firefighters gathered in a muddy field in Central Park yesterday to demand a bigger pay raise from the city than the 11.5% offer their union rejected this week.

    Politicians, union leaders and celebrities such as Susan Sarandon, Denis Leary and Steve Buscemi invoked the sacrifice of 343 FDNY members in last year's terrorist attacks and repeatedly implored Mayor Bloomberg to come up with more money.

    "We want to be paid what we deserve!" shouted Uniformed Firefighters Association head Steve Cassidy.

    "We don't want to have to work a second job. We want to be able to stay home with our wife and kids on our day off, because we don't know how long before another disaster," he added.

    Only partially shielded from the drenching downpour and chilly weather by umbrellas and bunker gear, the raucous protesters included firefighters from around the world who are visiting New York for today's FDNY memorial service at Madison Square Garden.

    The masses cheered the speakers lustily as City Councilman Robert Jackson of Washington Heights revved up the crowd by vaulting a barricade onto the shoulders of firefighters and Leary blasted Bloomberg in an expletive-laced tirade.

    But even before the rain-soaked rally kicked off, the mayor rejected the pay demands on his weekly radio show.

    "Everyone agrees that [firefighters] and all municipal employees deserve more, but we have an enormous deficit and we just don't have the money," Bloomberg said.

    Echoing his stance in the recently concluded contract for cops, Bloomberg said that any more money for firefighters would have to come from "productivity enhancements."

    On Thursday, union delegates resoundingly rejected the city's offer of an 11.5% raise over 30 months, retroactive to May 31, 2000.

    "That's clearly not enough," Cassidy said.

    "Raise taxes, do what you have to, because we deserve it," he said.

    Suburban envy

    Rank-and-file firefighters complain that starting base pay for rookies of about $32,000 a year isn't enough to support a family and is $20,000 less than first-year pay for firefighters in nearby suburbs such as Yonkers. Top rank-and-file FDNY base pay is $49,000.

    But Bloomberg called the oft-quoted figures misleading, saying that including guaranteed overtime, a new recruit would make $40,000 in the contract that was rejected.

    In the crowd, Firefighter Bill Slattery, 43, a 13-year veteran from Ladder 30 in Harlem, didn't want to hear about the mayor's desire for productivity gains.

    "I gave all the productivity I could on Sept. 11," he said. "I was on vacation, but I showed up. Why can't we get a contract we can live off of?"


    With Don Singleton and David Saltonstall

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/stor...0p-24908c.html

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    Thumbs up�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������

    Good on you guys - and I hope you get what you want.

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    "Everyone agrees that [firefighters] and all municipal employees deserve more, but we have an enormous deficit and we just don't have the money," Bloomberg said.
    Let's see how this looks turned around....

    "Everyone agrees that the people and all municipal buildings deserve protection from fire and disaster, but we have an overworked force, and YOU just don't have the money to pay us. Sorry", the firefighters said.

    Did OJ decide to not pay his attorneys after they pulled a miracle? Did he say.... "I agree you deserve more, but I just don't have the money.... gotta go play gold now." No.... even an alleged murderer pays his bills.

    Oh, wait, I know.... for your next anniversary, tell your wife "You deserve more, but I couldn't get you a gift. We just don't have the money." Then go to a ball game.

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    Hi if the USA can afford a war on Iraq then they can afford to pay their firefighters what they deserve. Politicians sit on their ass and get paid a hell of a lot more then the people who save and fight fires. What the hell are they thinking. They want to save money. Then reduce the cost to house politicians and stop spending money on inquests in to Presidents *** lives. I hope you get what you guys deserve. Were praying for you.
    From Melissa in Ottawa Canada

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    I agree Melissa. How annoying is it to see all these celebrities, sports stars, and most of all POLITICIANS raking in millions of dollars in return for doing comparatively little. These people don't put their lives on the line to save other lives for their living. Yet the people that do, the firefighters (and no doubt many other emergency workers) have to beg for a measly pay rise so they can afford to live. Wake up, Bloomberg. Don't you think it's a bit hypocritical to eulogise the fallen firefighters on the anniversary of 9/11, to remind their families and the rest of the world that they were heroes, then tell their living comrades that City Hall can't afford to pay them what they're worth? You say you don't have the money - then FIND THE MONEY! I'm sure you can cut corners somewhere (here's a starting point - politician's salaries, I'm sure there's room for a bit of trimming there, if they're anything like the pollies over here) and give the money to the firefighters, who really do earn it, and deserve it so much more. And to the firefighters' union still battling to get their payrise, best of luck to you, and keep at it. I'm a member of a trade union myself, and I know what you're up against. But when you have numbers on your side, and fight long enough, you will get what you want. I hope it's soon.

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    re reply hereo's need money to live

    Hi emily, thanks for replying. Where are you from? I just thought I would let you know that I liked your message. They have the money and maybe when they need emergency services and they aren't there then they will think twice. God bless all the firefighters.

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    where they might find money

    I know where they might find the money....

    Think about all of those fire trucks that were donated to the department. All of that equipment.

    That equipment was going to be replaced anyway... they would have 'found' money for that, since it was needed.

    How about, the money saved from not having to buy equipment (due to the great donations from around the world), could go to the firefighters.

    For, even though those donations were thoughtful and appreciated, who were the donors attempting to help? The administration? Or the rescue workers who worked night and day?
    Brian Shea
    Co-Director of Fallen Brothers Foundation
    (foundation charity dissolved 2006)

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    Administrator Brian's Avatar
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    What is unfortunate for the firefighters is that we don't have much leverage in terms of work stoppage.

    Most other workforces can slow down, or stop. But the firefighters can't. It has nothing to do with laws against it, it has to do with the heart of the job.

    If the firefighters decide to not respond, or take their time and stop at every light (as actually written and required) then people are put in danger. And that goes against the spirit of the job.

    Teachers can stop teaching for a week. Sanitation can cause a stink (and eventual health problem). Police can stop writing tickets (a major revenue stream for municipalities).

    Firefighters can't even delay 5 minutes, because someone can die. And, we can't do that, no matter how poorly treated we are by administration.

    The only recourse we have is the people. We need all of the people, the taxpayers, to support us. Maybe the other unions, not just in the city, but around the country, can support us by slowing down a little.... doing what we can't do. Perhaps that will help put pressure on the "never have money" administration.
    Brian Shea
    Co-Director of Fallen Brothers Foundation
    (foundation charity dissolved 2006)

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    Brian, I think that's a great idea of yours (getting the other unions to "slow down" on behalf of the firefighters union that is) Have you suggested it to your own union rep? I had already figured out that going on strike or slow-down really wouldn't suit firefighters, and was racking my brains to try and think of something else. That could be the way to go.

    Regarding the first part of your message, I can say for a certainty that when I donated money to the FDNY last year, I thought it would be going directly to the families of the firefighters, not the administration. It's great that you got new equipment, you need that too, but surely it should have been up to the city to pay for that, not public donations originally intended for the firefighters themselves.

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    re better wages

    hi I never thought that the firefighters should stop or not show up we need you very much. But the thougt of it should at least stir something in the administrations hearts and I hope pockets. What is the stand of the White House? President Bush should put back up all the promises he has made. Maybe he forgot what he saw on September 11th and maybe he should be reminded. Yes I know that you needed new trucks and equipment but that is up to the city through taxes to provide and also should be in the budget exspeciaaly in Newyork. But the salaries should not be less than what a politician makes with of course the same amount of time off and benifits. Yes in a perfect world this would be done. What does a teacher make and a police officer make in the USA? What are the unions bargaining for and can others walk out to support you?

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    Budget-Cutting Struggles Sting an Already-Pained Fire Dept.
    By MICHAEL COOPER and KEVIN FLYNN


    t is a ritual of budget-cutting time. The mayor tells his commissioners to save money by offering up cutbacks. The departments return with too few cuts, or cuts so severe that they can hardly be taken seriously.

    This ritual is under way throughout the government of New York City, as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg grapples with a deficit that could easily exceed $5 billion next year, and struggles to cut $1 billion in spending next month. But nowhere is it more fraught than at the Fire Department, whose losses at the World Trade Center now make the normal give-and-take of budget season almost too painful to bear.

    Some of the options being debated by the Bloomberg administration and the department show the gravity of the situation. They include closing two dozen firehouses at night; slashing the number of fire marshals, who investigate fires, by more than half; closing eight fire companies in houses that now hold two; and reducing the number of firefighters in some engine company crews to four from five.

    In the Police Department, the prospects are equally severe. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said yesterday that the department had submitted a plan for roughly $250 million in cuts. He would not detail how that reduction might affect the size of the force, but senior police officials have said it could require them to reduce the 39,000-member department by more than 4,000 officers.

    The Fire Department, all told, has been asked to cut $75 million in spending from its roughly $1 billion budget by next month. And while the final numbers are far from being set in stone, and the department may yet be spared some of the cuts, such a reduction would represent the department's largest loss of financing since the fiscal crisis of the 1970's, when hundreds of firefighters were laid off.

    "The firefighters are all up in arms," said one fire chief. " `How could this happen after 9/11?' they're saying. They're feeling pretty bitter."

    Capt. Peter Gorman, the president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, which represents supervisors, called the cuts "the equivalent of cutting the military after Pearl Harbor."

    City officials say that their hands are tied. They have a budget gap of roughly $5 billion to close next year, and any cuts in the city's $42 billion budget must come out of about $15 billion that the mayor has discretion over. And that $15 billion includes the entire budgets of the Police and Fire Departments and the city's share of education spending. The administration says that it will not endanger public safety and notes that the number of fires has been steadily decreasing over the last few years.

    "The mayor has a deep admiration for the members of the Fire Department, but the current fiscal crisis demands we reduce every agency's spending, no matter how tremendous their contribution," said Edward Skyler, a spokesman for the mayor.

    The city has already decided to delay hiring 300 firefighters until sometime next year, as part of the plan to save money. The longer the hiring is delayed, the more the department will shrink. Several classes have been hired since the attack on the World Trade Center, when 343 members of the department were killed. But the 11,300-member department continues to lose firefighters to retirements, which are way up this year: 968 firefighters have retired since January, up from 424 for the same period last year.

    The budgetary chess game between the city and the Fire Department

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