Metro-North Employees’ Overtime Pay Under Scrutiny

| Daily Voice

Overtime pay at the MTA has gone off the rails, with the agency paying its workers more than $400 million in overtime last year, including $344,000 to one Long Island Railroad employee and 25 Metro-North employees that doubled their salaries in overtime.

Despite a year fraught with delayed, canceled and stalled trains, as well as the seventh fare hike in less than a decade, a new study released by Empire Center found that MTA’s overtime rose by nearly 16 percent last year.

In total, the MTA shelled out $418 million in overtime more than five times what the anticipated price hike that took effect this week is expected to generate.

LIRR overtime spending increased by nearly 30 percent, totaling $224.6 million in 2018, up $50 million from the previous year’s $175.4 million. Employees collected an average of 50 percent more in overtime in 2018, or $34,000, than 2017, when overtime averaged $22,701. LIRR payroll spending last year grew by more than 10 percent, or $84 million.

According to the report , LIRR has increased payroll spending by 45 percent or $280 million since 2008, while the number of employees increased by 9.6 percent. LIRR employees were paid an average of $112,404 last year, compared to $84,484 in 2008.

Of the 100 highest-paid MTA employees, including the top four, 58 work for LIRR.

“Including overtime and other extra pay, such as shift differentials, the three highest paid hourly employees for Long Island Railroad were Thomas Caputo, a chief measurement operator, at $461,646; Dallas Bazemore III, a surfacing foreman, at $395,397; and Joseph Ruzzo, track foreman, at $380,407. In salaried management positions, the three highest-paid employees were Patrick Nowakowski, former agency president, at $454,288; Phillip Eng, current agency president, at $294,243; and Afshin Hezarkhani, chief engineer of special projects, at $260,380.”

The report states that:

Total overtime spending by Metro-North has increased by over $40 million since 2013, reaching a new high of $125 million in 2018. Seventy-seven Metro-North employees collected more than $100,000 in overtime each, and one-hundred twenty-five employees collected enough overtime to more than double their pay last year. Metro-North’s 7,208 employees were paid an average of $95,778 last year, compared to $93,628 in 2017.

The three highest paid hourly employees for Metro-North Railroad were Richard Bourt Jr., a track supervisor at $311,706; Harry Dobson, a structures supervisor at $301,626; and Eduardo Vargas, a machinist, at $296,367. In salaried management ranks at Metro-North, the three highest-paid employees were Catherine Rinaldi, agency president, at $297,253; Albert Santini, chief engineer, at $263,250; and Walter Burger III, stations and facilities department director, at $250,075.

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