The president of the union that represents School Crossing Guards, Local 372 of District Council 37, defended his members last week after the New York Post reported that the part-time workers were phoning in sick so often that street cops were filling their posts.
The article quoted an anonymous police source who said, “on any given day, you could have a couple of hundred out sick, which means you’re going to have a couple of hundred less cops on the street.”
Local 372 President Shaun Francois said his 2,400 members were being scapegoated, were too low-paid and the force was understaffed. He said they took no more days off than the average worker. “It’s complete nonsense,” he said. “Crossing Guards are as dedicated as they have been, ever.”
The hourly wage for the NYPD-employed Crossing Guards increased last year to $11.79, with more-experienced workers earning $13.83. Mayor de Blasio in January announced a plan to increase the minimum wages of city employees—including Crossing Guards—to $12.14 at the end of this year, $13.50 in 2017 and $15 by the end of 2018.
The base salary for Police Officers ranges from $42,819 for those just out of the academy to $78,026 for those with more than 5½ years’ experience, not including overtime and other stipends.
The NYPD told the local that few qualified applicants were applying for the positions, Mr. Francois said. He questioned why jobs were posted in precincts where people don’t normally visit unless “something goes wrong.”
‘Not Advertising Enough’
“They’re not even advertising it enough to where it’s something they want people to apply for,” he said.
Though the city allocated $1.1 million this year to hire 80 more Crossing Guards, officials said it was hard to fill the positions. Both Public Advocate Letitia James and Bronx Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson in November urged the NYPD to manage what Ms. James called a “bureaucratic standoff.”
Speaking to reporters March 17, Mayor de Blasio acknowledged the problem attracting applicants and said that it had been the practice throughout his administration to have Police Officers take over for Crossing Guards.
“I assume it was the policy in the past, but the bigger thing we have to do is get to the root challenge, which is it’s been hard to recruit crossing guards in some neighborhoods,” he said. “Look, I was a public-school parent until June. My kids used to be crossed by Crossing Guards—I know how important they are and we want to figure out how to fill every one of those under our current system.”
PBA: ‘We’re Last Resort’
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch welcomed the role, but said that the de Blasio administration needed to hire more police if it was to fully ensure public safety.