June 7, 2016
By Silver Krieger
New York, NY – 150 new Traffic Enforcement Agent recruits attended an orientation session at 1 Police Plaza in downtown Manhattan on Thursday, June 1st, to ready themselves for their new occupation, and were addressed by Local 1182 President Syed Rahim, other union leaders, and delegates.
The recruits must complete a 13-week course, and begin by being Level 1 TEA’s, whose duties include writing summonses.
Rahim addressed the crowd, saying, “You will have a promising career in this department. We promise to represent all of you to the full extent. Two years ago this Executive Board took over. Before that, the financials were not so good. You have high rent, food costs, and kids’ tuitions. We are working to increase your benefits and make your working environment good.” He told the crowd that, in March of 2016, the union signed a “step plan” that ensures that “your salary will always go up.” He also spoke of new victory of annuities for all workers, and said that the union was fighting for gain-sharing, as TEA’s do a lot of out-of-title jobs, and higher prescription caps. Violence against TEA’s was also discussed. “Your safety is first,” he said. “Lots of assaults have happened. Arrests are made but often [the perpetrators] are released.” This led to a discussion of the continuing fight for peace officer status. “This status will make the public perception [of TEA’s] change,” he said, leading to greater protection and safety. “We demand our benefits and fights from New York,” he said.
Sokunbi Olufemi, Executive Vice-President of Local 1182 spoke next. “I wish all of you the best in life. This can be a stepping stone. I want you to realize this: there are rules and regulations that must be followed. I advise you: listen to all your instructors will tell you. It will be difficult. It’s not the army, you’re not police officers, but you are working for the best police department in the world, the NYPD. You are part of their eyes and ears. Without us the city shuts down. We are working hard to get what we deserve. You can do it. I’m behind you, we are behind you.”
Rahim then added a welcome update regarding the special windbreaker raincoat to be worn on the job. “The raincoat will be replaced this month. It’s a good raincoat, and you won’t have to pay for it.” The TEA’s work outdoors in all kinds of weathers.
Tammy Meadows, Local 1182 Vice-President, then spoke on the role of the union, and the responsibilities of its members. “The role of a union is job protection. The union does not move without you. You are the engine. If you’re not actively involved it won’t work.” She offered a warning, “You have to present yourself in a very professional manner.” On the issue of the continued fight for peace officer status, she said, “Peace officers have a very strict responsibility. Right now, if you get assaulted, it’s a slap on the wrist [for the perpetrators]. Meanwhile, you may be out for 30 days with no pay. But if you are a peace officer, it’s 3-5 years, 15 years maximum, and a 5K fine. As a representative you cannot beat your wife, your child, your husband, smoke marijuana, drive drunk. Also, at don’t spread your personal business at work. Keep it to yourself. You cannot consent to any sexual involvement with your boss. If you are planning to go into the police department or be a correction officer, bad attendance or charges will cancel that.”
Olufemi then struck a lighter note, letting the TEA’s know about the upcoming Family Day at Six Flags, on July 25th. He also let them know about seven scholarships offered for members’ high school children for $1,000 each for the first time, and a new jacket that members will be getting free of charge, as well as the raincoat.
Chief Delegate Michael Jackson said, “Our main job is to represent you. If you have a problem, call your union. In the private sector, they say, report to HR, ‘You’re fired.’ With us, you will not be fired, except in certain situations.” He also said, “Unlike police, you do not have unlimited sick time. If you get hurt on the job, it’s called compensation. We have to provide a lawyer for your compensation case. You must call the union office and myself. If you are hurt off the job, it’s called disability.” He told them that in case of an altercation, “Do one simple thing. Walk away.”
Syed Islam, Delegate at Large/Manhattan, said, “If you are facing any problem, don’t hesitate to call us. Our door is open 24/7.”
Meadows then spoke on the upcoming vote on the State constitution, saying, “Vote no to amending it. It can wipe out your pension.” She also said that the Right-to-Work law is coming in July ’18, and that it would say that you don’t have to pay dues, but you will still get representation. “This will wipe the union out,” she said. “We will come around with cards for you to sign saying that you pledge to pay your dues.”
Shadat Hossain, Delgate at Large/Brooklyn, urged them to “follow what they say.”
Azizur Rahman, Delegate at Large/Manhattan, said, “I highly encourage all of you to get involved with the union. Be proud of this job, regardless of what other people say or will say. As a union we provide benefits because you guys want it.” He also reminded the recruits about the importance of punctuality, saying, “Just come to work on time.”
Mohammed Shahjahan, Secretary/Treasurer of Local 1182, said, “Without you, it’s not a union. Your participation is critical in every aspect, otherwise, we cannot stand.”