THE MTA’S OVERTIME PROBLEM

May 18, 2019 at 4:30 am

The transit agency is facing serious scrutiny after dozens of employees raked in millions in overtime. We have the details.

Aired on May 17, 2019.

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>>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS."
WHEN IT COMES TO OVERTIME AT THE
MTA, AND PARTICULARLY AT THE
LONG ISLAND RAILROAD, THE
NUMBERS ARE SHOCKING.
FOR EXAMPLE, ONE LIIR EMPLOYEE
REPORTEDLY EARNED $344,000 IN
OVERTIME PAY LAST YEAR.
THAT'S NEARLY 4,000 HOURS OF
EXTRA WORK.
HE'S NOT ALONE.
THIS IS PART OF A TREND AT THE
MTA, WHERE DOZENS OF EMPLOYEES
HAVE PULLED IN MILLIONS IN OT.
GOVERNOR CUOMO IS NOT HAPPY
SAYING THIS IS NOT ABOUT
OVERTIME BUT RATHER ABOUT
STEALING AND FRAUD.
WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?
WHO IS TO BLAME?
WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT?
JOINING US WITH ANSWERS IS THE
TRANSIT REPORTER GREG MACKER.
I WONDER IF YOU CAN ELABORATE
AND GIVE US A BETTER SENSE OF
THE KIND OF OVERTIME WE'RE
TALKING ABOUT.
>> YEAH.
WE UNDERSTAND LONG DAYS HERE IN
NEW YORK AND PUTTING IN YOUR
TIME AND GETTING COMPENSATED FOR
IT.
BUT SOME OF THOSE SCHEDULES
WOULD BE HUMANLY IMPOSSIBLE TO
WORK THAT MANY HOURS OVER A
CERTAIN TIME.
>> YEAH.
THE PERSON I POINTED OUT TO IN
THE INTRODUCTION.
ACCORDING TO PEOPLE WHO DONE THE
MATH HE WOULD HAVE TO WORK 22.5
EVERY WORKDAY.
>> EXACTLY.
PART MIGHT BE BECAUSE OF THE WAY
THINGS ARE SET UP YOU GET CREDIT
OR DOUBLE TIME.
>> YEAH.
>> THEY NEED TO HAVE HAD THIS
CONVERSATION ALREADY.
THEY HAD AN EMERGENCY MEETING
LAST WEEK WITH THE BOARD TO
ADDRESS SOME OF THESE THINGS THE
SPECIFIC CASES AND THEN THE BIG
PICTURE OF HOW THEY KIND OF
MONITOR OVERTIME AGENCY BY
AGENCY.
>> SO THAT'S MY QUESTION, I
MEAN, THE MTA BOSSES WERE
SHOCKED.
SHOCKED WHEN IT BECAME PUBLIC.
LIKE YOU SAID, THEY HAD AN
EMERGENCY MEETING ABOUT IT AND
HIRED OUTSIDE CONSULT ASSISTANTS
TO LOOK INTO IT.
BUT THESE ARE THE SAME PEOPLE
WHO PAID THE OVERTIME.
>> YEAH.
>> AND THERE'S A PROCESS IN
THERE.
AND EACH AGENCY PRESIDENT WENT
THROUGH THAT.
THEY HAVE AN ELECTRONIC SYSTEM
OF SWIPING IN AND OUT.
THEY'RE MOVING TO UPGRADE THAT.
THAT OVERTIME DOES HAVE TO BE
APPROVED.
THEY POINTED OUT THIS IS A
HANDFUL OF WORKERS.
EVEN JUST IN TRANSIT.
THERE ARE 50,000 WORKERS.
THE LIRR HAS TENS OF THOUSANDS
OF WORKERS.
TO SEE THE TOP EARNERS ARE
GETTING THAT MUCH, IT HAS BEEN
RAISING RED FLAGS.
IT SHOULD HAVE.
IT COMES DOWN TO MAKING EVERY
DOLLAR COUNT.
>> YEAH.
>> DO THE BOSSES NOT KNOW OR NOW
IT'S PUBLIC THEY HAVE TO REACT?
>> I THINK IT'S A LITTLE BIT
THAT HAVE.
WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE
CONTRACT NEGOTIATION SEASON
AGAIN.
THE LIRR RAILROAD CONTRACTS ARE
UP, TRANSIT IS UP.
THIS CERTAINLY PUTS IT OUT IN
THE PUBLIC EYE NOW.
THIS KIND OF UNDERSTANDING THE
BU
BUREAUCRACY.
MANAGEMENT TOOK PART OF THE
RESPONSIBILITY.
YOU DON'T WANT TO BLAME THE WORK
FERS THEY'RE FOLLOWING WHAT THE
PROCEDURE IS.
ALSO, IF THEY'RE NOT, WHO IS
FINDING THAT OUT?
AND NO ONE COULD SAY AT THE
MEETING.
YOU KNOW, DID THAT GUY THAT MADE
OVERTIME --
>> RIGHT.
>> WAS WITHIN THE BOUNDS.
IF IT WAS, THEN THE SYSTEM IS
WHAT WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT AND
NOT TO CRITICIZE THE WORKER.
>> RIGHT.
>> AND LET ME GET TO THAT IN A
SECOND.
GOVERNOR CUOMO SAID IT'S ABOUT
THEFT AND FRAUD.
IS HE RIGHT?
>> THEY DON'T KNOW.
AND THE UNION REPS ON THE BOARD
WERE ANGRY THAT ALMOST THERE WAS
AN INDICTMENT OF THE WORKERS.
AND THEY TALKED ABOUT POSSIBLE
FRAUD OR THINGS.
AGAIN BECAUSE IT MIGHT BE
OPERATING WITHIN WHAT THESE WORK
RULES ARE.
THERE COULD BE SOME BAD APPLES.
THEY ALL SAID THAT, TOO.
THEY NEED TO FIGURE THAT OUT.
>> YEAH.
THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE.
POLICY ANALYSTS SAYING WHAT YOU
SAID.
OKAY, THERE'S LIKELY SOME FRAUD
INVOLVED HERE.
BUT THE REAL FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM
IS THE STRUCTURE OF THE
CONTRACTS.
BECAUSE THEY INCLUDE A LOT OF
WORK RULES THAT KIND OF DEMAND,
KIND OF MAKE NECESSARY THE
EXTENSIVE AND EXPENSIVE
OVERTIME.
TALK ABOUT THAT.
>> AUTOMATIC DOUBLE TIME FOR
SOME THINGS, EVEN WORKING ON THE
WEEKENDS IS HARD TO SCHEDULE AND
OVERNIGHT.
IF YOU KNOW, THE SYSTEM THAT'S
WHEN THEY'RE DOING A LOT OF THIS
WORK.
BOTH ON THE RAILROADS AND WITHIN
TRANSIT.
BECAUSE THAT'S ALMOST AN
AUTOMATIC MULTIPLIER OF THINGS.
AND WE WANT TO REWARD PEOPLE FOR
DOING THEIR JOB AND FOR WORKING
OUTSIDE OF WHAT THE REGULAR TIME
IS.
BUT THIS HIGHLIGHTS KIND OF THE
STRUCTURE AND THE WAY THINGS
HAVE BEEN.
WE HEARD FROM ELECTED LEADERS
THAT DOING THINGS THE WAY WE
HAVE IS NOT THE WAY TO CONTINUE.
>> YEAH.
LET'S SEGUE.
WE HAVE ABOUT A MINUTE LEFT.
A STORY THAT MET THE HEADLINES
INTERNATIONALLY AND
INTERNATIONALLY.
THE ONE THAT WAS IGNITED BY A
VIDEO OF A GUY -- A VIDEO OF A
WORKER AS HE WAS HEADING FOR
WORK OF A SUBWAY CAR.
IT WAS A TWO GOING DOWNTOWN
EARLY IN THE MORNING.
I MEAN, AS WE SEE.
IT'S TERRIBLE.
>> YEAH.
>> AND THE QUESTION IS, IS THAT
THE NEW NORMAL?
>> WE HAVEN'T SEEN MORE OF THEM
BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE ON THE LOOK
OUT FOR THEM AND THEY'RE FED UP
WITH THEM AND WE POSTED ON
SOCIAL MEDIA AND TAKEN INTO THE
OFFICIALS.
AND AT ANY GIVEN TIME, THERE'S A
COUPLE THOUSAND, 3,000 CARS ON
THE SYSTEM.
FOR SOMEBODY TO BE ABLE TO GET
INTO ONE AND THEN HAVE IT RIDE
UP-AND-DOWN AND THEN MAYBE EVEN
CONTINUE TO BE IN OPERATION IS
NOT AN ACCEPTABLE THING.
THOSE CARS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE
WALKED THROUGH AT LEAST AT THE
END OF EVERY TERMINAL WHEN IT
GETS TO THE END OF ONE LINE THEN
THE OTHER.
>> HOW IS THE NTA RESPONDING?
>> THEY'RE SAYING NYPD AND
HOMELESS SERVICES AND SOME OF
THE OUTREACH ADMINISTRATORS NEED
TO WORK MORE WITH THEM TO
ADDRESS WHAT IS THE HOMELESS
PROBLEM.
CLEANING UP A CAR IS ONE THING.
BUT IF THERE IS A -- IF THE
SYSTEM IS BEING USED, AND IT IS,
PEOPLE ARE STAYING THERE OR
CAMPING THERE OR THEY'RE LIVING
THERE ALMOST AND THAT'S
INDICATIVE OF A BIGGER PROBLEM.
THEY'RE SAYING THEY'RE STEPPING
UP ENFORCEMENT.
THE MAYOR ACKNOWLEDGED THAT.
THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.
WE SEE THIS AND IT'S A REMINDER
OF WHERE WE ARE.
>> RIGHT.
ALL RIGHT.
THANK YOU SO MUCH, GREG.
§

Funders

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