End of the line for OT

MTA bud­get cut freezes ex­tra pay for sub­way work­ers

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY DAN RIVOLI

The gravy train is out of ser­vice for sub­way work­ers.

The MTA’s sub­ways de­part­ment put a freeze on over­time this month through March 31 be­cause of the need for “sig­nif­i­cant bud­get sav­ings” through next year, ac­cord­ing to an Oct. 1 memo ob­tained by The News.

But in the memo, sub­ways chief Sally Li­br­era in­sisted this won’t make sub­way ser­vice worse. She men­tions a pro­gram for the ser­vice de­liv­ery di­vi­sion “tai­lored to en­sure train ser­vice lev­els are not im­pacted.”

Li­br­era also put man­agers on no­tice that they’ll still be ac­count­able for keep­ing up in­spec­tions, ser­vice and rou­tine main­te­nance.

“Such work must be planned us­ing straight time,” she wrote.

MTA spokesman Jon We­in­stein de­fended the move.

“Us­ing tax­payer money wisely and ef­fi­ciently is ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial,” he said. “To be crys­tal-clear, this direc­tive has no im­pact on train ser­vice or op­er­a­tions; rather, it is specif­i­cally tai­lored to en­sure man­agers are do­ing their jobs and han­dling tax­payer-funded re­sources ef­fec­tively.”

Tran­sit of­fi­cials will look for “ef­fi­cien­cies” in the sys­tem out­side pas­sen­ger ser­vice and “max­i­mize” the amount of work that can be done in a shift. The MTA did not make of­fi­cials avail­able to dis­cuss the ini­tia­tive.

Any job where over­time is needed, how­ever, will be con­sid­ered on a caseby-case ba­sis, the memo said.

But Joe Costales, vice pres­i­dent for rapid tran­sit op­er­a­tions at Trans­port Work­ers Union Lo­cal 100, did not think much of the direc­tive. He said over­time will be flow­ing, whether it’s for con­struc­tion safety flag­ging or run­ning trains.

“If the train comes in late, it’s that per­son’s last trip, they’re gonna get paid over­time,” Costales said. “They’re al­ways look­ing for (train crews) to work over­time . ... They need to get the work done.”

NYC Tran­sit, which also op­er­ates buses, ex­pects to spend nearly $585 mil­lion in OT this year.

Roughly half of NYC Tran­sit’s over­time will go to sched­uled and un­sched­uled ser­vice, cost­ing $282 mil­lion. Main­te­nance was 42%, or $248 mil­lion. Weather emer­gen­cies, mean­while, made up 5.3%, or $30 mil­lion, of the pro­jected over­time.

But the MTA over­all is fac­ing a bud­get crunch and needs new sources of rev­enue. Even with fare hikes, it is look­ing at a $262 mil­lion deficit in 2020, with ad­di­tional deficits to­tal­ing more than $1 bil­lion in the fol­low­ing two years.

Work­ers re­pair a track switch on the B/D sub­way tracks in Man­hat­tan.

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