Contracting IN beats contracting out
EXPIRED: Privatized parking meters
||TDMs, from left, Michael Dolce, James Minnelli and Vinnie Orellano secure newly installed munimeter to sidewalk.
By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
The Traffic Device Maintainers of Local 1455 are giving on-street parking a major facelift by replacing single-space parking meters with solar-powered muni-meters.
"We are always ready to work with the Dept. of Transportation to complete any assignment," said Local President Mike DeMarco, whose members will install, calibrate and maintain 13,000 multi-space muni-meters citywide. The job is moving rapidly toward its completion in 2012.
"Anytime TDMs have been asked, we've always stepped up to the plate," DeMarco said. "That's why we didn't want to see this work contracted out - we knew we could get the job done for the city."
Former Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith had pressed to contract out the muni-meter project, and in March the city sought an expert to look into selling or leasing public on-street parking to a private vendor, as Chicago and other cities had done with huge long-term fiscal losses. But his role in mishandling the December 2010 blizzard and the domestic violence charges against him pushed Goldsmith to an embarrassing early exit from the Bloomberg administration. "My sense is that with his departure the whole thing has been put on hold," said DC 37 Associate Director Henry Garrido.
In May DC 37 General Counsel Mary O'Connell filed an improper practice charge alleging the city must bargain over privatizing parking meter installation or maintenance. The Office of Collective Bargaining ruled that the charge was premature.
The local convinced DOT to have TDMs handle the parking meter conversion. And by mid-September, 60 years after they first appeared, single-space parking meters in Manhattan had expired. Now the TDMs are replacing the outer boroughs' remaining 44,000 single-space meters with 6,500 muni-meters.
Local 1455 member Charlie Foranjy Jr. removes old single-space meter in a
citywide conversion to solar-powered
TDM David Roach calibrates and programs a newly installed muni-meter in downtown Brooklyn.
Local 1455 saves city money
The Local 1455 members also installed special muni-meters that charge commuter and tour buses about $20 an hour to park near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, and they are hanging new street signs announcing the changes.
Muni-meters accept credit cards, parking cards and coins and print out dated, time-stamped receipts, which drivers place in their windshields. An expired meter or a misplaced receipt incurs a $65 fine in Manhattan, $35 elsewhere.
Last year Local 1455's City Parking Equipment Service Workers collected $400,000 a day, or $125 million, and the muni-meters are expected to rake in more. Every driver pays to park, whether they use the full allotted time or not. The lucky times have run out for motorists who used to find precious leftover minutes on street meters.
DeMarco credits good relations between labor and DOT management for keeping the project in-house. He said, "This is another example of how public employees save the city money. We protected the taxpayers by keeping private contractors out of the street parking business and proved once again that our union workforce can do the work cheaper and better than outside contractors."
— Public Employee Press, Dec. 2011-Jan. 2012