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MTA bungles $24M rollout of new time clocks meant to crack down on OT fraud By CLAYTON GUSE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |
Updated On: Mar 02, 2020
MTA workers busted up several fancy time clocks designed to crack down on overtime fraud, the agency's inspector general said. (Metropolitan Transportation Authority Inspector General)

On Jan. 17, more than 8,000 Metropolitan Transportation Authority employees — or about 15% of the agency’s workforce — were still not required to use the system, the IG report shows.

At least nine of the time clocks — which scan fingerprints to clock workers in and out of shifts — were smashed last year in “apparent acts of vandalism," according to the IG. Those clocks represent a small fraction of clocks in the MTA’s entire system.

The MTA moved to install the modern clocks after a report last year found the agency spent $1.3 billion on overtime in 2018, a $100 million increase from the year before.

[More New York] Parents, school officials grapple with school attendance policy amid coronavirus fears »

A consultant in August blamed the soaring costs on bad management — but another IG report found that some fraud was afoot, particularly within the Long Island Rail Road.

Four foremen who worked in the LIRR engineering department raked in a combined $650,000 in overtime in 2018 — and Tuesday’s IG report shows the MTA still struggles to track employees in that division.

Roughly 11% of LIRR employees still do not use the new time clocks, the report states. The MTA’s expensive new system struggles to monitor LIRR employees who work at multiple or remote locations, according to the report.

[More New York] NYC starts voter registration push for 16- and 17-year-olds »

The MTA board in July approved a $20 million change to a contract with Kronos, the time clock’s manufacturer, to bring the fingerprint-reading devices to all of its workplaces. The board last year also approved an additional $2.7 million on special cables for the new clocks, and $1 million on personnel to install them.

The agency has not released an analysis that shows how much money the clocks will save.

MTA spokeswoman Abbey Collins did not dispute the facts reported by the inspector general — but said that the 8,000 employees not yet using the system are a “small number.”


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TRANSIT WORKERS ON THE FRONT LINES FIGHTING COVID 19

by Mark Henry, Chair, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) NYS Legislative Conference Board & President/Business Agent, ATU Local 1056

          COVID-19 disrupted our lives, It infected many individuals and families, It took too many lives! 

            My members and other public transit workers get these people who WE NEED to get to their workplaces to and from their jobs and homes.  Some of these workers go home to crowded conditions not conducive to staying healthy when we face a pandemic.  We saw the images of Elmhurst Hospital the public hospital which serves Corona.  Exposed to all dangers, transit workers still show great resiliency mentally and physically under uncertain conditions.

            As president of a public bus transit union I observed firsthand these impacts among members of ATU Local 1056 and the commuters they serve throughout Queens.  Many of our members who operate and maintain NYC Transit bus routes serving Queens with some routes extending into The Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan, come from communities of color.  Many bus riders live in these communities.  Too often these communities lack the services they need.  Crises such as this pandemic exacerbates these disparities. COVID-19 has shown all the economic pitfalls, adverse impacts of cost-cutting and elimination of programs over past years…it’s amazing that your zip code could impact your quality of life.

            Look at the disparity of services, medical centers, health care, hospital closures, quality of school education, physical fitness, curriculums, public services, shopping, groceries shopping, types restaurants, and housing, but mainly public transportation; the inequality in every one of these categories is immense.  Our communities are marginalized and undervalued.

            It remains important as we still know little about COVID-19 other than it attacks vulnerable populations, the symptoms vary, and we too often experience a devastating aftermath. My members are particularly vulnerable, working against an unknown assailant virus that has a limitless time frame, according to health experts.

            UNFORTUNATELY, our governments acted slowly.  Providing proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) timely could have saved a lives. The Transit Authority lamented that decision when the first transit workers died as a result of COVID -19.  ATU and our colleagues in MTA labor raised this need.  Only then did the authority provide needed PPE to workers and initiated effective measures suggested by the unions (Cleaning of Equipment and workspaces, social distancing in workplace, rear boarding, and blocking of first several rows of bus, requiring passengers to wear masks). 

            We note the MTA and NYC Transit finally responded despite official CDC recommendations to provide our members, and the riding public protective measures.  We appreciate the efforts of the Queens Borough President Sharon Lee, Councilman I. Daneek Miller, COMTO and Member of Congress Grace Meng in this regard to supply PPE items.  Going forward we need protective barriers for bus operators in ALL buses. The MTA has also increased COVID19 testing opportunities and screens our members before they enter our depots in Jamaica, Queens Village and Flushing/Corona (Casey Stengel). We also appreciate the efforts to clean and disinfect buses, subways and stations.  These cleaning protocols matter: ATU supports the recently mandated a 24 hour cleaning schedule for public transit equipment to help reduce the spread of the virus through the community; this includes addressing the serious homeless problem on buses – yes also on buses – and trains as these individuals seek shelter through the mass transit system.  As to overnight subway closures, MTA and authority already “enjoy” shuttle bus replacements where it shuts down parts of system and it should rely solely on its public transit bus operators and not privatize a public service. Outsourcing work makes absolutely no sense – especially for an agency strapped for cash – as an answer to any overnight subway closures. We continue to object to the Authority directly and in statements, testimonies and various media on this privatization of some services when the subways are shutdown overnight 1:00 – 5:00 a.m.  We argue for greater bus deployments.  More sensible when about 50% of the affected subway riders commute between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m.

            The transit authority remains consistent, not recognizing or minimizing the value of their employees. Even when it comes to Government stimulus programs at federal or state level, they carved out their employees from receiving the necessary relief. Pandemic relief in those documents, stimulus laws, must provide relief to our membership. Stress of working in the unknown and still providing for your family adds to the anger and frustration. Our Transit workers merit hazardous pay as “essential workers” with demonstrated recognition.

            Focusing on NYC (24/7), especially in the outer boroughs where many transit deserts exist, New York City needs public transit to work in order to re-open NYC and allow our city and our nation’s economy to rebound. The best way to kill a neighborhood is to kill its public transit or limit its usage and service.  An essential service should not put the public at risk when they use that service. The authority must provide the necessary service level so riders can easily maintain social distancing. What is needed a protected, safe and healthy workforce and workplace to provide levels of service needed to assure the riding public they can safely return to work via public transit. The workers needed to sustain the rebound in services, support roles, hospitality, retail, public service, health care, education need safe public transit to return to work in numbers enough to make a difference. Our neighborhoods need to reflect what is necessary to sustain communities of color with a proper lifestyle.  Maybe then COVID-19 could be defeated or at least somewhat contained.

            We seek the public’s support on continued protections for our members and their own adherence to measures such as wearing masks and physical distancing.  We need support to pressure the MTA and government to ensure service levels that make transit safe for the riding public.  We need support for hazard pay.  We need employers who can implement policies to stagger work hours and days until conditions change.  We need to Authority looking at deployments of buses to help address potential unsafe crowding along routes.

Open Competitive and/or Promotional Exams (NOE)

Notice of Examinations (NOE) for positions within the Transit Authority are open for filing.  For applicants to apply or receive more information about an Open Competitive and/or Promotional exam they visit MTA  Examinations Employment website at http://web.mta.info/nyct/hr/appexam.htm

Each NOE contains key details, including education and experience requirements, application instructions, expected test dates, and other exam-specific test information

 
 
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