Jump to content


Attention: In order to reply to messages, create topics, have access to other features of the community you must sign up for an account.
GojiMet86

MTA's Overtime costs blamed on Inept Management

Recommended Posts

https://www.amny.com/transit/mta-overtime-costs-1.35116875

 

Quote

 

MTA's soaring overtime costs blamed on outdated policies, timekeeping failures

image.jpg

A payroll review issued Thursday says overtime is doled out lavishly to the MTA's 74,000-person workforce, due in part to varying timekeeping systems and work rules. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Drew Angerer

By Vincent Baronevin.barone@amny.com  @vinbaroneUpdated August 15, 2019 5:09 PM

 

The MTA's inability to properly manage payroll and overtime costs contributes to soaring expenses at the cash-strapped agency, according to a new report.

Wildly outdated and varying timekeeping systems, work rules and internal policies mean the MTA has no real-time tracking of the vast majority of its 74,000-person workforce, where overtime is doled out lavishly, creating excessive payroll costs and the potential for overtime abuse, according to an MTA-commissioned payroll review from the law firm Morrison & Foerster.

Former federal prosecutor Carrie Cohen, a co-author of the report, warns that the MTA’s systemic flaws in tracking worker pay — which accounts for 32% of MTA spending — could jeopardize the success of the authority’s reorganization plan as well as any other money-saving measures. The MTA is currently considering thousands of layoffs and other measures to close a roughly $1 billion budget gap in 2022 that threatens service cuts and more intense fare increases.

“The full benefit of these proposals may not be realized, however, unless the MTA also addresses the pervasive, long-standing timekeeping inefficiencies that have been flagged for years as major cost drivers,” reads the report, published Thursday.

The review comes at a charged time at the MTA, as the authority negotiates several expired union contracts and as its board has debated allegations of payroll fraud and abuse among MTA workers. The review was inspired by a recent report from Empire Center detailing that a few employees had raked in several times their salaries in overtime.

While the report does not draw conclusions on fraud — it focuses on policies and procedures — it is particularly harsh on the MTA for taking little action in response to more than a decade and a half of critical reports warning of timekeeping failures.

“Despite years of similar warnings, documented findings, and reports of excessive and escalating overtime, management and leadership of the [MTA] have failed to address excessive overtime and have not been held accountable for this failure and the resulting escalating overtime costs,” the report continues.

Overtime accounts for about 16% of the MTA’s roughly $5.4 billion payroll budget and has increased significantly across every agency last year except for Bridges & Tunnels, the MTA’s smallest department and the only one to use a modern timekeeping system.

Overtime pay accounted for a quarter of all payroll expenses at the Long Island Rail Road last year. At Transit, the largest agency overseeing the subways and most city buses, overtime accounted for 18% of payroll.

The report has offered 15 recommendations. It suggests, in part, for the MTA to more aggressively switch to biometric timekeeping systems; standardize timekeeping across the authority; reconsider its hiring freeze; and renegotiate “outdated” work rules that generate overtime through collective bargaining.

Cohen highlighted specific rules at agencies that “can drive extra pay and high overtime.” On the subways, for example, a “deadheading” work rule means when an employee begins work at one location and ends at another, the employee is paid to return to their home location and can be paid overtime if that extends past the worker’s shift.

On the LIRR, in another example, a “co-mingling” work rule means engineers receive double pay if they operate both a diesel and electric engine during one work assignment — a rule that “may have made sense a century ago” but not in 2019 when operating both engines is essentially the same, according to the report.

MTA Transit’s efforts to minimize subway disruptions with weekend work also contribute to exorbitant overtime as does a combination of a lack of available workers and high rate of absences. Across city buses, operators report on average for 197 out of 260 annual workdays, according to the report.

The MTA welcomed Cohen’s findings, which are expected to be a topic of discussion at a board meeting scheduled for Friday afternoon.

“This report makes important and well thought out recommendations that will help us address the significant problem of excessive overtime, which is particularly important in light of our severe financial condition,” MTA spokesman Max Young said in a statement. “We are already implementing substantial parts of these recommendations, including the installation of biometric timekeeping devices; standardizing our time and attendance system agencywide; and instituting new practices for controlling overtime.”

 

 

Here is the report from Morrison & Foerster:

https://new.mta.info/sites/default/files/2019-08/2019-08-15 Morrison %26 Foerster Report.pdf

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The massive B/O sickness piece is interesting. The B/Os on here have posted about how strict the MTA is about sick days, and will send supervisors to your home to make sure you are actually home sick. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

That is the case for the Subways and you're required to have medical evaluations to return to a safety sensitive position on the LIRR as well. There is also 'pattern analysis' so 'mental health days' come back to bite you.

BTW the 'made sense a century ago' in regards to the comingling is pretty dishonest since it was supposed to have been given in exchange for requiring everyone to qualify on all equipment,reducing the size of the roster and not getting a pay raise (and that wasn't a century ago). Also, I don't think anyone who operates an MP15, and MU and a DE/DM will tell you it's basically the same thing. 

Would the T/Os on here say that running a Work engine and an R160 are the same 🤔

Oh...also the leading cause for B/O absenteeism are Assaults by the Public and vehicular accidents. So I think I figured out where the problem is.

Edited by Jsunflyguy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, QM1to6Ave said:

The massive B/O sickness piece is interesting. The B/Os on here have posted about how strict the MTA is about sick days, and will send supervisors to your home to make sure you are actually home sick. 

Hope they’re reporting that, since it’s not only a 4th Amendment violation, it’s a HIPAA violation.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, Deucey said:

Hope they’re reporting that, since it’s not only a 4th Amendment violation, it’s a HIPAA violation.

Is MTA a civilian employer or law enforcment? Does an Inspector General have subpeona/discovery/law enforcement power? HIPPA is nearly wothless as everyone waves all their rights when they sign up for insurance. All HIPPA does is stop glossy viagra ads & smoking settlement lawsuit flyers in the mail.

  • Thumbs Up 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, bulk88 said:

Is MTA a civilian employer or law enforcment? Does an Inspector General have subpeona/discovery/law enforcement power? HIPPA is nearly wothless as everyone waves all their rights when they sign up for insurance. All HIPPA does is stop glossy viagra ads & smoking settlement lawsuit flyers in the mail.

Dunno who told you that, but you can’t sign your medical records privacy away. The only threshold is a legitimate need to know, and it has to be documented - the request - and calling out ill doesn’t meet the threshold for release to your bosses.

The line you sign when completing insurance applications is acknowledging the insurer can provide your medical information for legitimate purposes - clinical and actuarial research, claims payment, government reporting. Your name and SSN aren’t part of that.

The only time HR can have your info is if you file a work comp claim. Having the flu or a headache isn’t work comp.

(This is my industry for nearly two decades, FYI.)

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Deucey said:

Hope they’re reporting that, since it’s not only a 4th Amendment violation, it’s a HIPAA violation.

MTA has been knocking on people's doors since the 70s or 80s, its survived legal challenge and Union protest for better or worse so I don't think that angle will work. They don't come to discover any medical facts about you, they just knock on your door, eyeball that you 'look sick' and are sufficiently miserable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Jsunflyguy said:

MTA has been knocking on people's doors since the 70s or 80s, its survived legal challenge and Union protest for better or worse so I don't think that angle will work. They don't come to discover any medical facts about you, they just knock on your door, eyeball that you 'look sick' and are sufficiently miserable.

The Transit Authority guys just want to make sure you're at home and not at Belmont Park or Atlantic City.  In RTO if you had to leave the house for any reason such as a doctor's appointment or pharmacy you would call them when you were leaving,  give a destination,  and call them when you returned home. I saw the inspector once in 30 years.  He was actually looking for my neighbor and decided to visit me first. He looked at my pass and he left. The whole time my neighbor was sneaking into his building after visiting OTB. My friend broke his leg in a motorcycle accident and he came home from Kings County Hospital and they put him in bed. I came by to check on him and a TA inspector drove up and got out of his car and followed me to the gate. He said he had to see my friend and I told him that I would bring his pass and his mother, an RN, to the gate but going into the house was a no-no. He started to protest but when Gus and Zeke,  the dobermans, came out of the house he changed his tune. He couldn't understand why they didn't get excited when I went through the gate. My friend and I saw the same inspector at Nathan's at Coney Island one day and we teased him about the incident.  He said that my department,  RTO, and Surface, were the main targets for visits , and the visit to my friend,  an RCI at the time, was not the norm. He  said that many times he would go to a house and the wife or girlfriend didn't know the person wasn't at work and wasn't home either. I have heard of a doctor,  TSS,  team visiting RTO people late in my career. I guess it's like that anywhere you go.  There's always something or someone who gives everyone a bad name. Carry on. 

  • Thumbs Up 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 8/16/2019 at 12:39 PM, Deucey said:

Hope they’re reporting that, since it’s not only a 4th Amendment violation, it’s a HIPAA violation.

HIPAA says that your doctor can't divulge medical details about your diagnosis or treatment. It has nothing to do with the MTA, it's just a law about medical bookkeeping.

The MTA can just send people to check that you physically exist at your house while sick and aren't doing something dumb like booking it to Vegas.

Edited by bobtehpanda

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, bobtehpanda said:

HIPAA says that your doctor can't divulge medical details about your diagnosis or treatment. It has nothing to do with the MTA, it's just a law about medical bookkeeping.

The MTA can just send people to check that you physically exist at your house while sick and aren't doing something dumb like booking it to Vegas.

Only if it’s worker’s compensation related.

Anything else - checking if home, asking for detailed medical information, etc - is illegal - UNLESS it’s information found in a DOT or employer-sponsored physical.

Now if an employee is dumb enough to call out ill and then get caught on the Cyclone at Coney Island, that’s on them. But visiting the house to make sure someone actually has the flu?

I’ve gotten several managers fired for that. That’s why MD notes/treatment verifications exist - to prove that the employee was under some medical treatment (or caregiver to someone with one) to validate the absence.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/21/2019 at 6:25 PM, Deucey said:

Only if it’s worker’s compensation related.

Anything else - checking if home, asking for detailed medical information, etc - is illegal - UNLESS it’s information found in a DOT or employer-sponsored physical.

Now if an employee is dumb enough to call out ill and then get caught on the Cyclone at Coney Island, that’s on them. But visiting the house to make sure someone actually has the flu?

I’ve gotten several managers fired for that. That’s why MD notes/treatment verifications exist - to prove that the employee was under some medical treatment (or caregiver to someone with one) to validate the absence.

It’s in our contract that they can come to our house if we’re in the worst 30% of sick leave users. If there is some law that says they can’t please let me know. You can inbox me if you want.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, LexAveExp5 said:

It’s in our contract that they can come to our house if we’re in the worst 30% of sick leave users. If there is some law that says they can’t please let me know. You can inbox me if you want.

1) I’d take your union to task over that

2) If you’re in the worst 30%, you should have FMLA - even if it’s for I’ll family members you care for (and get it for hours per month, not days, so you can take partials. That way, if they tell you not to come in bc you missed 4 hours, you can’t be penalized for management denying you work, and it has to be paid as straight time and not sick time or vacation/PTO)

3) Get your union to lobby for a state family leave act that prevents you from being penalized for child care or caregiver issues.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Deucey said:

1) I’d take your union to task over that

2) If you’re in the worst 30%, you should have FMLA - even if it’s for I’ll family members you care for (and get it for hours per month, not days, so you can take partials. That way, if they tell you not to come in bc you missed 4 hours, you can’t be penalized for management denying you work, and it has to be paid as straight time and not sick time or vacation/PTO)

3) Get your union to lobby for a state family leave act that prevents you from being penalized for child care or caregiver issues.

There are some workers that are abusing sick days, and the (MTA) knows about it, so they are cracking down on it. Let's put it this way... Certain days see a high number of call-ins for sick days, and it leads to shortages causing trips to go missing... Lots of them. Case-in point... Monday morning, we had THREE missing rush hour buses on the BxM2. The 6:00 which is the first bus of the morning was MIA, then the 7:30, and then the 8:30. May not sound like a big deal, but most of the rush hour service is at best every 15 minutes, or every 30 minutes. The times that the trips went missing buses were scheduled every 30 minutes, so people were royally pissed, especially the Mount Sinai crowd.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8
  • Confused 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Deucey said:

1) I’d take your union to task over that

Our union sucks and this won’t be addressed until they are voted out by a more “progressive” slate. The contract they just offered us (and our shitty union actually rejected) would subject all of us to home visits. But what law did you use to get those managers fired? As long as a law’s legislative purpose is contravened, its protections cannot be waived in a collective bargaining agreement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

There are some workers that are abusing sick days, and the (MTA) knows about it, so they are cracking down on it. Let's put it this way... Certain days see a high number of call-ins for sick days, and it leads to shortages causing trips to go missing... Lots of them. Case-in point... Monday morning, we had THREE missing rush hour buses on the BxM2. The 6:00 which is the first bus of the morning was MIA, then the 7:30, and then the 8:30. May not sound like a big deal, but most of the rush hour service is at best every 15 minutes, or every 30 minutes. The times that the trips went missing buses were scheduled every 30 minutes, so people were royally pissed, especially the Mount Sinai crowd.

Every competent planner knows that holidays and days that bridge are subject to higher absenteeism. That's industry standard for hundreds of different companies, the tried and true solution is to offer OT to bulk up the staffing accordingly instead of trying to get by on regular 100% coverage...but it's more important to keep OT down so trips get ABD instead. No one really looks at the missing trips number, but the commuters feel it.

 

People want their service but no one wants to take appropriate measures to protect it; This especially exacerbated in a company where you can literally work there for 27 years and still not get Christmas off and any personal day has to be taken exactly 30 days in advance at midnight on the dot it's just an inevitability. People talk about sustainability, well running someone into the ground for 5-15 years with no meaningful off time isn't sustainable, so the cycle continues. Swaps are no longer allowed so people who actually want to come in and take the bullet for others.

 

The other matter as far as banging out sick is if you work in a transportation job, particularly in the MTA you have to be 110% and on your bad days you have to be 100%, you don't get a "well I was feeling a little congested but I toughed it out" after something happens. In this age where everything is datamined right out of the black box and there is a camera staring you right in the face for when you make a mistake there's no reason whatsoever to come in when you're at 99%. It's a career liability, if that's abusing the sick policy I'd say it's a consequence of squeezing people dry and leaving them no way to work out an honost compromise.

 

I'm thinking to all the office jobs and if someone had worked for 10 years and constantly couldn't get a half-day or a PTO to handle a family situation there would be a riot. 

 

Also given the number of people I know that are/have been out for injuries and 12-9s, you spend a lot of your time running around between 130 Livingston and Doctors that will see you...eventually, and your insurance not paying you it just isn't worth it to "abuse" that system. Are there people who can, sure, but it's very minimal as the process basically seems to function to frustrate you back to work whether you're ready or not.

Edited by Jsunflyguy
Spelling
  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On one hand, I hate people who cheat the system. On the other hand, I also hate being monitored for compliance (whether if it’s by the government, company head honchos, etc.). But the honor system doesn’t always work, and sometimes human nature demands incentives to choose to do what’s right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Jsunflyguy said:

Every competent planner knows that holidays and days that bridge are subject to higher absenteeism. That's industry standard for hundreds of different companies, the tried and true solution is to offer OT to bulk up the staffing accordingly instead of trying to get by on regular 100% coverage...but it's more important to keep OT down so trips get ABD instead. No one really looks at the missing trips number, but the commuters feel it.

 

People want their service but no one wants to take appropriate measures to protect it; This especially exacerbated in a company where you can literally work there for 27 years and still not get Christmas off and any personal day has to be taken exactly 30 days in advance at midnight on the dot it's just an inevitability. People talk about sustainability, well running someone into the ground for 5-15 years with no meaningful off time isn't sustainable, so the cycle continues. Swaps are no longer allowed so people who actually want to come in and take the bullet for others.

 

The other matter as far as banging out sick is if you work in a transportation job, particularly in the MTA you have to be 110% and on your bad days you have to be 100%, you don't get a "well I was feeling a little congested but I toughed it out" after something happens. In this age where everything is datamined right out of the black box and there is a camera staring you right in the face for when you make a mistake there's no reason whatsoever to come in when you're at 99%. It's a career liability, if that's abusing the sick policy I'd say it's a consequence of squeezing people dry and leaving them no way to work out an honost compromise.

 

I'm thinking to all the office jobs and if someone had worked for 10 years and constantly couldn't get a half-day or a PTO to handle a family situation there would be a riot. 

 

Also given the number of people I know that are/have been out for injuries and 12-9s, you spend a lot of your time running around between 130 Livingston and Doctors that will see you...eventually, and your insurance not paying you it just isn't worth it to "abuse" that system. Are there people who can, sure, but it's very minimal as the process basically seems to function to frustrate you back to work whether you're ready or not.

It seems as if you are trying to excuse the behavior by claiming that it's "an industry standard", as if that makes it any better.  Two wrongs don't make a right.  

I fully support worker reform in the system, as it is surely needed. At the same time, there are always some bad apples in the bunch, and I fully support weeding them out. They ruin things for the workers that give a damn and try to make things better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/29/2019 at 10:01 PM, Deucey said:

1) I’d take your union to task over that

LOL our union has no balls and until we get leadership in that is for the workers and not in some politicians pocket the game will stay the same....

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/30/2019 at 10:49 AM, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

It seems as if you are trying to excuse the behavior by claiming that it's "an industry standard", as if that makes it any better.  Two wrongs don't make a right.  

Down here three wrongs make it better...

Our union  and other screw ups dealt us this hand up to us to fix it..

That is How it works....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, RTOMan said:

Down here three wrongs make it better...

Our union  and other screw ups dealt us this hand up to us to fix it..

That is How it works....

These days it's every man for themselves...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

These days it's every man for themselves...

How else do you think people take care of family issues, Doctor's appointments, or that thing they do where they'll approve 4 of your 5 vacation days and expect you to come to work on Wednesday. 🤔

Or do you expect the TA workers to take one for the team when the Public literally spits on them every day and head office isn't much better. 

  • Thumbs Up 1
  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Jsunflyguy said:

How else do you think people take care of family issues, Doctor's appointments, or that thing they do where they'll approve 4 of your 5 vacation days and expect you to come to work on Wednesday. 🤔

Or do you expect the TA workers to take one for the team when the Public literally spits on them every day and head office isn't much better. 

My response was in response to this: "Our union  and other screw ups dealt us this hand up to us to fix it.. That is How it works...."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Jsunflyguy said:

How else do you think people take care of family issues, Doctor's appointments, or that thing they do where they'll approve 4 of your 5 vacation days and expect you to come to work on Wednesday. 🤔

That’s how my union let management act on my unit out in California.

But then part of my dues went to this “Labor Management Partnership” that screwed us regularly because the folks from SEIU-UHW weren’t interested in making sure the local reps and stewards were as savvy about the business as the management.

So it was just a rubber stamp on oppressing us.

And Andy Stern & Co were absolutely shook when 65% of us left to create our own union.

I’m always pro union but EFF SEIU-UHW with rusty pipes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

My response was in response to this: "Our union  and other screw ups dealt us this hand up to us to fix it.. That is How it works...."

It’s a fair response. We left and formed our own, NUHW (see post above), and SEIU-UHW got California and Fed courts to take every step to block recognition, and then UHW had nerve to abrogate their responsibilities to represent us and 50 of us got fired as an intimidation tactic.

Thats why I support the simple vote (the card thing) to unionize - because when your union doesn’t bargain in your interest - thinking pay rises are the only thing you’re worried about, when your ability to do the job effectively and live your life is impeded by management with the union’s blessing, you should be able to leave it and start or join another.

No doubt that if these (MTA) employee’s could do that, some of these asinine anti-customer rules inflicted upon them would go away, and we’d probably have a better customer experience, and some budget savings.

  • Like 1
  • Thumbs Up 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

My response was in response to this: "Our union  and other screw ups dealt us this hand up to us to fix it.. That is How it works...."

I think the sentiment still holds, you assigned a moral value judgement over several posts that using PTO was wrong.

 

The Company does not allow a reasonable time off in my opinion, and the incentive for sick days is heavily weighted on the side of using them since unused time gets paid back at a pittance when compared to just calling out at least you got the time off.

 

As for maintaining strength is on the right track. If leadership turns into an ole boys club you effectively dont have a union.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.