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December 19, 2018

Subway workers losing overtime under MTA budget crunch

October 10, 2018
Workers repair a track switch on the B/D subway tracks in Manhattan in 2017. (James Keivom / New York Daily News)

The gravy train is out of service for subway workers.

The MTA Department of Subways put a freeze on overtime for operations 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 Daily News.




But in the memo, Subways chief Sally Librera insisted this won’t make subway service worse. She mentions a program for 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, subway service and routine maintenance.

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

MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein defended the move as prudent management.

“Using taxpayer money wisely and efficiently is absolutely essential,” he said in a statement. “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.”

For instance, transit officials will look for “efficiencies” in the subway system outside of passenger service and “maximize” the amount of work that can be done in a shift. MTA did not make officials available for an interview about the initiative.

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

But a top union official, Joe Costales, vice president of Rapid Transit Operations at Transport Workers Union Local 100, did not think much of the directive, saying that 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.”

“It’s going to be signed off because they need to get the work done,” he added.

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

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

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




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