Since 2015, Jeremiah Lane has been a parking enforcement officer in Lansing, Michigan. He’s also a UAW member who, like workers everywhere, needs protection in the workplace.
“You get used to the name Meter Maid very quickly,” said Lane. “Every curse word you could imagine I heard in my first week. I’ve had bottles thrown at me, I’ve been spit at. You’re the bad guy no matter what because you’re giving parking tickets, but it would be anarchy if people parked anywhere they’d like and no one enforced the rules.”
Some days are harder than others and when that happens, Lane pulls out his Bible and finds a quiet place to sit. Reading Psalms calms him down and gives him strength to continue.
For the four Lansing parking enforcement workers, love and respect doesn’t always come with the job but that doesn’t stop them from enjoying their job. Tina Cruz has been hitting the streets since 1985 and finds it refreshing some days. “This job gives me the freedom to be out in the fresh air; sometimes in the cold, sometimes in the hot sun, I get it all outside. And I get to help people,” she said.
The team is part of UAW Region 1D, Local 2256 which includes the city of Lansing, Potter Park Zoo, Blue Care Network, WILX TV-10, Wilensky Law Firm and other locations.
The union gives the parking workers a voice to negotiate better benefits and pay.
“My boss is not a UAW member,” Lane said. “No one else in the Lansing Police Department is a UAW member. My boss wishes he had my pay, time off and benefits. The city needs more police, but I don’t want to be a police officer because of the benefits I get now as a UAW member.”
The union also helped the parking workers switch from being municipal workers to police department members to help them deal with angry residents. That gives them better protection and radios for immediate communication with police if needed. “You have to have that immediate response in the heated exchange with an aggressive parking customer,” Cruz said.
Next time you get a parking ticket, remember, you likely deserve it. The person who gave you the ticket might be a fellow UAW member just trying to do their job without being insulted or threatened. We’re all trying to do our jobs the best we can to provide a decent living while being respected. We’ve all got feelings, families, and a desire to work where feel safe, secure and liked.
We are the UAW.
Article and video by Denn Pietro
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