New York Police, Fire Unions Enlist Widows to Help Get New Contract

NEW YORK (AP) -- Families of firefighters and police officers who died in the line of duty went to City Hall on Tuesday as part of their unions' latest gambit to win pay raises.

``It's time to give to them what they gave to all of you,'' said Marge Darcy, whose police officer husband, John Darcy, died in 1967.

Firefighters such as the late Eric Allen, who died at the World Trade Center, ``have to work two jobs, which takes a toll on families,'' said his widow, Angela Allen.

Police officers and firefighters have been working without a contract for more than two years. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the city cannot give its municipal workers large pay hikes.

``It would be great if we could pay our municipal workers more,'' he said Tuesday.

During the past two weeks, the police and fire unions have held a variety of press conferences to bring attention to their contract stalemate with the city.

The unions took to City Hall a desk with an empty chair they said was reserved for Bloomberg. They also have used the trade center site as a backdrop for a press conference to evoke the memory of the firefighters and police officers who died there, have publicized a letter they sent to President Bush asking him to intervene and have demonstrated outside Bloomberg's house at 1 a.m.

The unions plan to hold demonstrations during the Republican National Convention next week.

Also Tuesday, Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said the union would not file a First Amendment lawsuit against the city for what the union maintains is the city's effort to hinder its right to protest for a new contract.

The state Public Employment Relations Board has ordered the PBA and the city to go to binding arbitration to resolve the dispute, though the process could take several months. The firefighters' contract also is likely to be settled through binding arbitration.