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Public Employee Press

Union lawsuit hits tow quotas



LOCAL 983 filed a lawsuit to block NYPD's illegal tow quotas for Traffic Enforcement Agents 3 and their retaliation when numbers are not met. On the job, TEA 3 Steve Douglas tows illegally parked vehicle in Manhattan.

District Council 37, Local 983 and four Traffic Enforcement Agents 3, filed a lawsuit in December against the New York Police Dept. over quotas demanding that workers tow three to four illegally parked vehicles per shift or face harsh penalties.

"When they can't meet the quota, management denies them meal breaks, overtime and heavy equipment differentials and gives them poor evaluations, demotions and threats of termination," said Local 983 President Joe Puleo.

The union filed a suit in Manhattan Supreme Court charging that the quota system violates state labor laws and asking the court to order NYPD to end the illegal practice, compensate TEAs for any lost wages, time and benefits and reinstate any workers who were disciplined or terminated as a result of the policy.

"We are doing our jobs but the pressure to make these quotas is harassment. It's stressing me out," said TEA 3 Steve Douglas. The job stress and anxiety have put the nine-year veteran worker under a doctor's care. The quota has been in effect since 2009, but NYPD began penalizing TEAs last summer.

The local said about 300 TEAs haul in over $22 million a year in city revenue by towing around 750 |vehicles a day that have parked illegally at hydrants, bus stops, handicap parking slots and No Parking and No Standing zones. The TEAs issue $180 fines for towed cars and $100 summonses for vehicles released to the owner before hooking up the tow; commercial tows incur higher fines.

"The NYPD is violating labor laws and has yanked all discretion TEA 3s had to cut drivers some slack," said Puleo.

The heavy-handed quota system does not account for the many variables that influence the number of tows, workers said, like the borough, time of day, traffic, distance to the pound and the amount of paperwork each tow requires.

 
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