The local chapter of the Canadian Public Employees is becoming increasingly concerned with the violence and "crap" aimed at some of its members.
George Habib, business agent for CUPE Local 387, said the union has become highly concerned with the safety of some of its employees, particularly parking enforcement officers.
"The message I would send is there is an appeal process in place if you think you were unjustly given a ticket," he said. "There is something you can do about it. You can call a supervisor and explain the situation."
Habib understands that people may be unhappy about getting parking tickets, but doesn't believe it warrants physical aggression.
"At this point, my main objective is a little bit of awareness that those guys are subjected to those kinds of things day-in, day-out," he said "Many members are subjected to all sorts of crap day-in, day out."
Although municipal employees receive training on how to de-escalate confrontations, it doesn't always work.
"Right now I have one parking patrol officer who was sucker punched by somebody a few months ago," Habib said. "He ended up with a severe concussion and has been off work for some time."
Months later, the employee continues to suffer the effects of the concussion, and worries about his ability to work in the future. When he went to the hospital, Habib said the other man was also at the hospital, as he'd hurt his wrist in the incident.
"All he wanted was the car to be moved," he said.
According to Habib, the incident is being investigated by New Westminster Police, but other incidents don't make it to that stage.
"To me, if you spit in somebody's face, that is an assault," he said. "If you take a power washer to somebody, that is an assault."
According to Habib, some of the city's parking enforcement officers have reported being poked in the chest, been spat on, had drivers drive their vehicles toward them aggressively and come at them with a power washer.
"Those things, they are weapons," he said about power washers.
While the parking enforcement officers seem to get the worst response from the public, Habib said they're not the only ones who deal with the wrath of angry individuals. One maintenance worker who cleans parks encountered a particularly nasty person in the line of duty.
"She came back and one of the residents, who recognized her and had some beef with her or the city, actually applied dog poop to the car handle," he said. "When she finished her work and went to open the truck, her fingers were covered in poop."
While he believes the city is doing its best to ensure employees' safety, Habib is appealing to the public to avoid aggression when faced with being issued parking tickets.
Joan Burgess, the city's director of human resources, said the city is "very concerned" about employees' personal safety.
"It is very important to us," she said. "We make sure we are providing training to any of our front-line employees."
Training helps employees respond to different people and situations, protecting oneself, and disengaging and de-escalating situations.
"Issuing a ticket is not worth your safety," Burgess said. "We encourage our employees to step back and disengage from any risky behaviour."
Burgess said the city did have a "more serious incident" with one of its employees, and will continue to support the employee through convalescence and recovery.
"We don't take this sort of thing lightly," she said. "We do provide ongoing training. There will be more training this year."
Burgess said we unfortunately live in a society where these sorts of situations sometimes occur, but that doesn't need to be the case.
"Let's be nicer to each other," she suggested. "People have situations in their lives, people have to do a job. "None of us have to become aggressive with each other."
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