Ending the LIRR gravy train
Days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo slammed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s soaring overtime costs, his man on the MTA board Wednesday demanded an emergency meeting on the problem.
Gee, maybe the gov is finally getting serious about fixing the system.
The Post began spotlighting these abuses, particularly at the LIRR, after the Empire Center reported that OT costs there spiked 30 percent last year — with some employees pulling down hundreds of thousands in extra-hours pay.
MTA boss Pat Foye seems to be responding aggressively: Overtime “must be addressed,” he insisted as he set the meeting for Friday. “We must be sure it is being used effectively” and “appropriately.”
Last week, Foye ordered full reviews of OT procedures at the LIRR, MetroNorth and NYC Transit, and a separate probe by the MTA’s inspector general.
He also has MTA police checking LIRR employee cards and clock-in/clock-out procedures. Not yet clear is how effective unionized cops will be in policing the overtime of other unionized workers.
Especially since these officers’s own OT pay isn’t exactly peanuts, as the Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon noted Thursday. Overtime and other extra pay for MTA police rose 21 percent last year, boosting their average total wages to $131,959, the highest of any MTA unit, he reports.
At the same time, asking police to catch LIRR OT-abusers suggests that Foye and Cuomo see part of the abuse as criminal fraud. That union bosses are fuming over the move is also a sign it’s got some value.
But much abuse is likely legal. The real test for the governor will come, as we’ve pointed out, in contract negotiations with the LIRR unions. Those contracts, as Nicole Gelinas has illustrated, all but beg workers to run up the OT, especially as they near retirement and look to pad their pensions.
So, while Cuomo and Foye are making some encouraging moves, best to keep the champagne bottle corked for a while.
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