To the editor:
The BroadsheetDAILY article by Matthew Fenton on the contract between AlliedBarton and the Battery Park City Authority for the provision of security services throughout the Battery Park City community misstates several key facts about the services the Authority receives in exchange for the monies paid pursuant to the contract.
Let us begin by enumerating all of the services the Battery Park City community receives through the contract with AlliedBarton (many of which were not provided in our previous arrangement with the Parks Enforcement Patrol).
First, the community is provided with a steady roster of BPC Ambassadors certified in first aid who patrol on foot and bicycle, all of whom utilize a web-based geotracking and incident reporting system via mobile devices and radios to call 911 or for additional resources as needed. There is also a 24 hour Battery Park City based command center located at 211 North End Avenue. These Ambassadors provide invaluable assistance patrolling the community and are constantly identifying a range of maintenance and repair issues that may pose a safety concern, including ice and snow hazards, lighting issues, broken benches and graffiti, to name a few. AlliedBarton is also working with the NYPD to ensure that the Battery Park City community is as safe as ever.
The Authority is in full compliance with current wage regulations. The contracted salaries for the Ambassadors are in line with the Governor’s recently announced raise in minimum wage for State workers. The Allied Barton employees earn an hourly wage of $12.50-$15.00 depending on their experience level plus a significant benefits package that is ACA compliant, among other things.
With respect to the billing rate made issue of by Mr. Fenton, more than 78% of the rate billed to the Authority over and above the wages paid to the Ambassadors accounts for regulatory requirements such as FICA and Workers Compensation insurance as well as the provision of the Ambassador’s all-season uniforms and handheld equipment, the 24 hour local command center, training, background screening for candidates and, of course, the web-based geotracking and incident reporting system.
Finally, contrary to Mr. Fenton’s supposition that the Authority could have hired AlliedBarton via the OGS security services contract, AlliedBarton is not available for use on the OGS contract because they are “secondary contractors.” Per the OGS security services contract, “Allied Barton Security Services, LLC and Simaren Corp. dba Wisdom Protective Services are the secondary contractors and are not available to do business with. The secondary contractors were awarded as a backup to the primary in the event the primary contractors are unable to perform per the terms of the contract.” This information is available publicly on the OGS website.
We hope this letter helps your readers gain a better understanding of the comprehensive benefits the Battery Park City community receives from the Ambassador services.
Chief of Staff
Battery Park City Authority
Matthew Fenton responds:
Mr. McCabe’s letter does not deny or refute the central points of the article: That Allied Barton is being paid a richer markup than it earns for similar work at other State agencies (36.72 percent, versus 27.9 percent), while at the same time paying its employees significantly less than it does for similar work at other State agencies ($12.50 per hour, versus $17.96 per hour). He also ignores a related point: That the BPCA itself pays guards from another company, Summit Security, more than $18 per hour, at the same time it is paying AlliedBarton guards 31 percent less.
The letter also defends AlliedBarton’s markup by citing, “regulatory requirements such as FICA and Workers Compensation insurance as well as the provision of the Ambassador’s all-season uniforms and handheld equipment.” But these are ordinary costs of doing business for any security contractor, and AlliedBarton is faced with these same expenses at other government sites, where it charges a lower markup, but still pays its employees more than it does at Battery Park City. (For example, AlliedBarton guards working at the area’s three major airports, where the company has a contract with the Port Authority, are paid $17.43 per hour, or 39 percent more than they earn in Battery Park City.)
Nor does Mr. McCabe dispute the Broadsheet’s calculation that these disparities will translate into a windfall for AlliedBarton of many tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars in the first year of the contract, while also resulting in more than $100,000 in lost wages for the company’s employees in Battery Park City.
Mr. McCabe’s letter repeats the assertion (quoted in the article) that “AlliedBarton employees earn an hourly wage of $12.50 to $15.00 depending on their experience,” but the Broadsheet’s review of the company’s contract with the BPCA belies this. The contract says nothing about varying pay based on experience, and instead mandates a flat rate of pay for all non-supervisory personnel of $12.50 per hour. Only AlliedBarton’s handful of supervisors earn $15 per hour, and this based not on experience, but on their job title.
The assertion that “the Authority is in full compliance with current wage regulations” is literally true, but does not address any claim made in the article. The Broadsheet never said that AlliedBarton guards are paid less than the current minimum wage (which is $9.00 per hour). The article said they are paid drastically less than the $15 per hour that Governor Cuomo argues should be the minimum wage. Why an agency that the Governor directly controls (as he does the BPCA) should be moving backward on wages, instead of toward the goal of $15 per hour is not clear. But moving backward is what the BPCA has done, by dismissing Parks Enforcement Patrol officers who were making $17.41 per hour and replacing them with AlliedBarton guards who earn 28 percent less.
The letter also adduces the benefits package that AlliedBarton guards in Battery Park City receive as further justification for the generous terms of the contract. But Mr. McCabe does not mention (as the article points out) that the price of these benefits is borne directly by the public, not AlliedBarton. The contract allows the company to bill the cost of the benefits package back to the BPCA. In fact, far from being a cost for AlliedBarton, the benefits become a further source of profit under the terms of the company’s contract with the Authority, because AlliedBarton gets to mark this up by an additional five percent.
Finally, Mr. McCabe disputes that the Authority could have used the State’s existing contract for security firms, which is specifically designed to enable agencies like the BPCA to hire guards. He correctly points out AlliedBarton is a “secondary contractor” in this agreement. But he does not dispute that Summit Security would have been available. (In fact, it is through this contract that Summit already posts guards in Battery Park City). Nor does he deny that hiring a security company through this contract would have given guards compensation in line with the Governor’s push for a $15 minimum wage (and with the wages that guards from both AlliedBarton and Summit earn at other State agencies), while still saving the Authority money in the form of a smaller markup. The Broadsheet included the reference to AlliedBarton in the passage about the State’s existing contract because that firm is a signatory (albeit, as a “secondary contractor”) and also to provide an additional point of comparison.