PATERSON, NJ – City public works employees are upset about Paterson’s decision to hire an outside contractor for street-cleaning services on 21st Avenue in the People’s Park section and Main Street in South Paterson.
About a dozen workers showed up at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting to protest the $127,000 contract with Maverick Building Services of Rutherford.
Michael Jackson, an official of the union that represents the public works employees, said the city should have used the money to restore jobs in the department that had been eliminated in the 2011 layoffs. The rehired workers could have been assigned the tasks being handled by the Bergen County company, he said.
“We live here, we work here, we spend our money here,’’ said Jackson, of Local 2272 of the American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees.
“We’re disappointed,’’ said James Parker, president of the union.
The cleaning contract is being paid with money from the city’s Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) fund. Councilman Andre Sayegh, chairman of the public works committee, said city officials never presented the possibility of using the UEZ money to cover public works department employees’ salaries as an alternative to getting bids from private companies.
“I’m not saying we couldn’t have done it, I’m just saying that was not presented as an option,’’ said Sayegh.
The city last year used about $2 million in UEZ money to cover salaries of police officers who worked within the boundaries of the UEZ zone.
Under the current contract, Maverick is providing two maintenance workers for each of the two locations, for eight hours per day, seven days per week, Sayegh said.
The UEZ program has set aside $350,000 for the street-cleaning initiative. Next year, the city plans to shift the clean-up efforts to 10th and Union Avenues, Sayegh said. The city has an option to continue its contract with Maverick next year, officials said.