EDITORIAL: The trouble with Cuomo’s war on LIRR ‘fraud’

| New York Post

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is blasting the fraud that’s fueling MTA overtime costs, especially at the Long Island Rail Road. But he’s left us worrying that he’s only going after the tip of the iceberg.

“This is about stealing. This is about fraud,” Cuomo fumed Sunday of LIRR OT costs, which soared 30 percent last year.

So far, so good. After all, as he noted, it’s “physically impossible” to work as many hours as some LIRR employees clocked.

Take Marco Pazmino, who logged 5,845 hours in 2018, counting 4,157 in OT, as a track worker. That’s an average of 22.4 hours a day for just weekdays, or 16 hours a day if he punched in every weekend, too. If he really worked those hours, it certainly raises safety issues.

Kudos to the Empire Center for uncovering such outrages: It’s had to go to court time and again to force disclosure of pay and pension info for public employees across the state.

For the past few weeks, The Post has shined a light on skyrocketing overtime costs at the LIRR, even as its riders suffer the worst delays in 19 years. Our coverage prompted a tough response from MTA boss Pat Foye, who ordered a crackdown. Now Cuomo’s demanding action, too. Hear, hear.

Yet, as we and the Manhattan Institute’s Nicole Gelinas have pointed out, LIRR union-contract work rules practically beg workers to abuse OT . . . legally. They tie managers’ hands when it comes to which workers get OT, for example. And they allow ridiculously generous time off (such as when it rains), meaning more work has to be done at overtime rates.

But it’s up to Cuomo to demand the end of such rules. All the MTA’s labor contracts expire this year: Will the gov order Foye to insist on major change?

Union chiefs are screaming over Cuomo’s “fraud” talk. But they’ve got to be privately overjoyed that the gov is insisting the OT mess is all about the fraud and “has nothing to do with overtime.”

To save their obscene perks, LIRR unions could trigger a strike if they think the public will take their side. That’s why, if Cuomo truly wants to chop overtime costs, he needs to start making a public stink about the larger problem.

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