“My job boils down to one issue: public safety.”

Eric Lancelot, Traffic Device Maintainer, Local 1455    Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera

I work with about 11 others on the Department of Transportation’s Night Paint Operation crew. My job boils down to one issue: public safety.
We paint the yellow and white traffic lanes, crosswalks, bike lanes, speed bumps and put down lines for all the parades and races and the New York City Marathon.

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We painted the boxes in Times Square that restrict street peddlers to reduce harassment of tourists. People thanked us because it makes a big difference.
Public safety is critical. Without traffic lanes or crosswalks, people would drive crazily. My work protects everyone — drivers, pedestrians, children crossing the street, the elderly, and the disabled.
People are always staring at their phones even while crossing the street, so DOT had the Look! safety campaign and Vision Zero worker safety zones.
Recently after someone in Chinatown was hit by a bus, we recapped the crosswalks. It’s the difference between a vehicle stopping and
not stopping — people and drivers notice the bright new lines. My work could be the difference that saves a person’s life!
I was self-employed laying tile before the financial crash. Fixing up a home is a luxury no one was doing once the economy tanked. Everyone tightened their belts. We felt it for a long time. Even today, eight years later, people are still cautious about spending. Maybe we don’t need as much as we think we do.
As a city Trafffic Device Maintainer, I have more job security, dental and health benefits and a pension. I credit my union for it all. I can build a secure future for my son, who is 6.
My father is a Firefighter, two uncles work in Sanitation, and my brother is a Highway Supervisor. Public service plays a big role in my family. So does belonging to a union. Without unions, bosses would cut pay and hire less people—that would hurt families and the economy.
Soon our crew will paint the lines for New York City Marathon in all five boroughs and the big finish line in Central Park. I show my son the work I do — the crosswalks, the traffic lanes the lines for the parades and the marathons — because I’m proud of my job and my union. When he’s older he’ll understand.

This originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Public Employee Press.

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