From the News-Times
Police kicked off a week of protests against Mayor Mark Boughton on Tuesday by erecting a 10-foot tall inflatable rat across from City Hall.
The rat, usually erected by unions upset when companies hire non-union employees, was part of a protest that drew some 40 Danbury police officers, who are upset at contract negotiations with city officials.
The rat had a "Boughton" sign affixed to its chest. Officers paced the sidewalk at the corner the intersection of Deer Hill Avenue, West Street and New Street with signs reading "Crime doesn't pay. Neither does the city of Danbury."
Police have been working without a contract since July 2003 and haven't received a raise in more than three years. Most Danbury police officers make between $42,000 and $53,000 a year.
Twice this year and most recently last month, the union overwhelmingly rejected offers from the city, even though the proposals would have increased their pay by 12 percent over four years.
It also would have resolved a longstanding pension discrepancy between older police officers and those who joined the department after 1983.
Neither vote was even close. In May, the vote was 135 to 0. On Sept. 9, a modified offer was defeated 117 to 9.
After the September rejection, the contract went to binding arbitration. One arbitration session has been held, and two more are set for later this month.
The remaining hang-up, union officials said, is the city's insistence that police accept a medical insurance plan that would increase their out-of-pocket expenses while providing less coverage.
Detective Jim Hicks, a member of the police union's executive board, was part of Tuesday's City Hall protest. He said the union doesn't want Boughton driven from office, even though the union is stepping up protests with a Nov. 8 mayoral election looming.
"We just want to see him do right by the Danbury Police Department," Hicks said. "We want to get our message to the public about our issues with the city."