Mayor’s plan to privatize parking meters
||NOT FOR SALE: Leading July City Hall rally against Bloomberg’s plan to privatize on-street parking are Local 1455 Pres. Mike DeMarco, at mic, with supporters
including DC 37 Sec. Cliff Koppelman and Associate Director Oliver Gray, City Comptroller John Liu and City Council member Letitia James.
TDMs Eric DeAbreu and George Muff (background) maintain and repair 4,900 computerized muni-meters.
By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
Local 1455’s hard-fought battle against the city’s scheme to privatize on-street metered parking ended in victory Dec. 24, when time ran out on the Dept. of Transportation’s request for lease bids from contractors.
“For more than two years Local 1455 and DC 37 fought off attempts to privatize New York City parking meters for fast cash to plug the city’s budget shortfalls,” said Local President Mike DeMarco.
“Time expired on this misguided venture that would have robbed our city when it desperately needs proven and reliable revenue streams,” he said. “This was one of the best Christmas presents possible and a real morale booster for our members.”
Local 1455 represents City Parking Equipment Service Workers, who collect the money, and Traffic Device Maintainers, who install, maintain and repair parking meters citywide. TDMs bring in almost $150 million in annual revenue to the city coffers, which stand to reap even greater revenue from the new computerized muni-meters.
“We've done this job so well for so long that no contractor could have come close to providing the same level of savings, security and competence as the unionized public workers in Local 1455,” said DeMarco. “No private contractor has ever supervised a parking contract that comes close to the size and scope of New York City public parking, so they could not submit a competitive bid for the work.”
The union worked closely with DOT Deputy Commissioner for Human Resources and Facilities Management Marlene Hochstadt and used data from City Comptroller John Liu that showed how Local 1455 members net the city a 65 percent profit from its meters. The union also convincingly highlighted examples of parking privatization fiascos that ripped off taxpayers in Chicago, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh.
Local 1455 successfully kept in-house the citywide conversion to 15,000 computerized muni-meters from 65,000 coin-operated single-space parking meters; TDMs removed the last one on Jan. 31.
Working with political allies — including City Council members James Vacca, who chairs the Transportation Committee, Letitia James, Ydanis Rodriguez and others, along with Comptroller Liu — DeMarco kept pressure on the mayor. The local’s media campaign included articles in the PEP and a news conference last July at City Hall. Finally the Bloomberg administration scrapped its fast-cash plan to lease out its metered street parking.
For their help in defeating the privatization plan, DeMarco thanked DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts, the union’s Blue Collar Division, General Counsel Mary O’Connell and Research and Negotiations Dept. Director Evelyn Seinfeld and Assistant Director Heath Madom.
“We are always ready to work with the Dept. of Transportation,” said DeMarco. “Our priority was to protect our jobs and taxpayers by keeping private contractors out of the street parking business. We proved once again that our unionized workforce can do a better job.”
DOT Traffic Device Maintainer Charlie Foranjy Jr. removes old single-space meter as city converts to solar-powered muni-meter parking. TDMs bring in $150 million per year for city from metered parking.
— Public Employee Press, March 2013