Facing a growing storm of outrage over an overtime scandal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo opened the door Tuesday to possibly demanding work rule changes from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s unions as part of upcoming contract talks.
“The contract has to be renegotiated, to the extent there are undue benefits to the workforce then they should be taken out,” Cuomo told WNYC radio’s Brian Lehrer. “I have no problem negotiating fair, honest, accountable union contracts.”
The Cuomo-controlled MTA is struggling with deficits that budget watchdogs say are driven in part by decades-old work rules and inefficiencies codified in the agency’s labor agreements, which are up for renegotiation this year.
The agency recently hiked tunnel and bridge tolls and subway and commuter railroad fares in a bid to raise $289 million to fill the budget shortfall for 2019, triggering a wave of renewed complaints from riders about service.
That anger was compounded by a series of stories in The Post that highlighted the extraordinary overtime payouts scored by employees of one of the MTA’s commuter systems, the Long Island Rail Road.
The authority’s top earner, LIRR chief measurements operator Thomas Caputo, made $461,646 in 2018 before he retired — including $344,147 thanks to 3,800 hours of overtime alone.
Another LIRR employee, track worker Marco Pazmino, more than quadrupled his base salary and took home $256,177 in 2018, thanks to an astonishing 4,157 hours of overtime.
Nine of the top 10 overtime earners at the MTA worked for the LIRR, documents obtained by the conservative think tank Empire Center for Public Policy show.
In response, MTA chairman and CEO Pat Foye last month ordered the authority’s inspector general to probe the massive bills and told the heads of the subway, bus and commuter railroad divisions to review their labor practices.
Additionally, federal prosecutors in Manhattan and county prosecutors in Queens are eyeing the agency’s overtime practices.
All told, the MTA spent $1.3 billion on overtime in 2018, up from $1.2 billion in 2017.
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