New York Police, firefighters demand better pay in Times Square rally

Friday, August 16th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Chanting ``too much praise, too little raise,'' thousands of off-duty police officers and firefighters packed Times Square and demanded salary increases that have been resisted by the city.

Union officials estimated Thursday's crowd at 15,000 people. Some invoked the sacrifices made on Sept. 11, carrying placards that read: ``They say, 'Never forget.' We say, 'Already forgotten.'''

``All of these politicians were at ground zero talking about how much we were worth,'' said firefighter Kevin Roth, who was part of the throng. ``Eleven months later, it's business as usual.''

The two-hour rally was organized by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the Uniformed Firefighters Association. Beginning New York firefighters earn $32,724 a year, and starting police officers $31,305.

PBA members _ whose contract expired July 31, 2000 _ have been upset over reports that a state arbitration panel might approve a two-year contract that includes an increase in work days.

Reports said the contract would include annual 5 percent raises; the PBA wants a 23 percent pay hike over two years.

The firefighters have been without a contract for 27 months and without a pay raise in 40 months.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he would like to pay police and firefighters more but is hampered by a $5 billion budget shortfall.