March 20, 2017
By Silver Krieger
New York, NY – “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” is a quote from Herodotus usually associated with the United States Post Office, but there are many others who are called upon to do their duty in times when the nation is hit with fearsome storms and bad weather.
Among these are Traffic Enforcement Agents – those who give out summonses and those who direct traffic – and they had to show up for their jobs on Wednesday, March 14th, when winter storm “Stella” hit the Northeast. Although the storm brought only seven inches of snow to New York City, far less than expected, it still left heaps of snow over parked cars, and left the Agents standing guard over icy streets, braving the cold and wind to do what they could.
“It was bad,” said Traffic Enforcement Agent Orellana, who works in the area around Manhattan’s Penn Station as a Level I Agent, and writes out summonses. “My shift [on the day of the storm] was 12 pm to 8 pm. Safety came first, so we were told to find a place where we wouldn’t be injured on the job. Everything was covered.” She’s been six months on the job. Level I TEA Rathauer, also in the same area, from 34th Street to 23rd Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, and on the same 8-hour shift, just started one month ago. “I couldn’t see anything. We couldn’t ticket because the cars were all covered up,” he said. Previous to his employment, he’d completed three months of basic training.
Just weeks ago, at a ceremony in Queens where Level I TEA’s were promoted to Level II, Deputy Chief Michael Pilecki spoke of the difficulties the Agents faced on their jobs, and singled out weather conditions, among other dangers, as one of the hazards of the work. He praised their work ethic and determination in the face of such problems,“[Your] job is essential to keep traffic moving in NYC,” he said. “You make NYC safer for drivers and pedestrians alike.”
Recently, LaborPress spoke with Tammy Meadows, C.W.A. Local 1182 Traffic Vice-President, who has helped members in the face of difficulty getting disability benefits. “They are out in all the elements – snow, even hurricanes. It’s inhumane treatment – these people are not robots,” she said.
Syed Rahim, President of C.W.A. Local 1182, said, “Every year when this kind of climate happens, when public transportation is closed, my members still come to work. Even when nobody is on the street, they are sent to the street. This is a very, very risky job. As the President of the union, my members’ safety is my first concern. In places like Staten Island, and parts of Brooklyn, in this type of weather, everything is closed – they have no place to sit and take a break, to use the bathroom. The city needs to recognize them, and they need to give them uniform status. They are working so hard, but they are not recognized financially.”