January 19, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – CWA Local 1182’s ongoing efforts to secure a fair contract for the city’s uniformed Traffic and Sanitation Enforcement Agents got a big boost from Public Advocate Letitia James over the Martin Luther King Day weekend.
James told Local 1182 members gathered at the Hotel Pennsylvania in Midtown, that she is prepared to fight on their behalf.
“You all have been working beyond the duties you have been hired to do,” the public advocate said. “And you are not being fairly compensated.”
Out of title work is a large bone of contention in current contract negotiations between the city and the union. Agents do a lot more than issue summonses — they assist police in traffic accidents, direct traffic and are often times the first responders at accident scenes or other emergencies.
“You’ve been making millions of dollars for the city — and you’ve towed my car a couple of times, thank you,” James quipped. “You deserve to share in that wealth that the city has accumulated. Every single one of you deserves a raise — not only for you, but for your families and your future.”
The current pay structure for Traffic and Sanitation Enforcement Agents leaves workers struggling to make ends meet on annual salaries well below $40K. The job is also dangerous and regularly subjects workers to the ire of angry motorists.
Local 1182’s leadership has made progress in its contract negotiations with the City of New York. According Sal Albanese, chief union consultant, the local has been offered an unprecedented “step” compensation package, but that more needs to be done to meet the demands of members.
“We’ve made some progress, but we’re not there yet,” Albanese said. "The City of New York has not compensated you fairly. They’re still treating this job as if you were meter maids back in 1960. The job has evolved — but the compensations has mad the same.”
Among the financial demands the union is seeking from the city is what's known as “gain sharing” — or extra compensation for the performance of out of title jobs.
“We have be grossly underpaid since 1996 when traffic joined NYPD,” Local 1182 President Syed Rahim said. “We generate $700 million in revenue [for the City of New York] and we are getting less than $14 an hour. This is the time for us. We have to speak up.”
Despite the challenges, the union remains optimistic that a fair contract that pays members fairly and recognizes that the job has, indeed, evolved over the years, will be achieved shortly.
Once that occurs, Albanese is calling on the union — with the help of it supporters — to push for a change to Local Law 56 which presently allows Local 1182 to bargain on its own, but could also put agents on par with cops, firefighters and correction officers when negotiating contract percentages.
“Don’t tell us we’re part of the uniformed forces, and then tell us we’re going to get the civilian pay structure,” Albanese said.
James insists that the work Traffic and Sanitation Enforcement agents perform daily is just as valuable to the City of New York as other uniformed services – and deserves the same level of respect.
“Simply put, the offer put forth by the City of New York is inadequate,” the public advocate said. “It’s unacceptable. Many of the members of this union do the same tasks as NYPD and the Department of Sanitation. All that we want is parity. You deserve a wage that respects your contributions to this great city.”