Monday, June 15, 2009

"I've been working sleeping on the railroad..."

Last week we saw the story of New York Metropolitan Transit Authority train yard workers who pull down overtime pay on the order of $200,000 a year on base salaries in the range of $60,000 to $70,000.

Hey, that's a lot of overtime pay! A logical question that popped to mind (though not pursued here at the time) was: how many overtime hours did those guys have to put in to earn that much? Well, let's guesstimate...

Earning time-and-a half totaling $200,000 on a salary of $60,000, assuming a base work week of 40 hours, would require another 89 hours of work a week .... plus the original 40 hours ... for a total of 129 hours of work per week ... every week of the year!

And 129 hours a week divided by a five-day work week is 25.8 hours a day. So let's assume a seven-day work week. That's still 18.4 hours a day, seven days week, every week of the year.

Geeze, to get paid for that many hours, it looks like they'd have to get paid for sleeping.

And guess what ... they were!

They get cash for catching Zzzz's!

An arcane union rule allowed 34 Long Island Rail Road grease monkeys at a Queens maintenance shop to earn a total of $2.5 million in overtime last year, and some of that staggering sum was paid just for heading home and going to bed, The Post has learned ...

Under the rule, the railroad is required to fill vacant slots on all work shifts -- regardless of whether the manpower is needed -- allowing senior repairmen to pick up enormous amounts of extra hours.

If a repairman is out sick or goes on vacation, for example, the rule requires the shift's empty slot to be filled by another mechanic, even if he's not needed or on OT.

There were hundreds of instances last year when mechanics worked 24 to 32 hours straight, racking up time-and-a-half and double-time pay. The system then dictates that these OT kings be sent home to collect an additional eight hours of pay for no work.

Many accrue 40 consecutive hours of pay in a single stretch, ringing up a full week's wages in less than a day and half.

So after getting paid for say 24 hours of overtime on a "job" that didn't have to be done to begin with, one gets to go home and get paid double-time for another eight hours of watching TV or sleeping it all off....
And the gravy train doesn't stop there. Another mechanic can then pick up the vacant slot left by the sent-home worker and receive time-and-a-half pay.
... and while one is getting paid double-time for sleeping at home, someone else gets to step in and collect time-and-a-half for doing the very same job. Which leaves the MTA paying, what, triple-and-a-half time, for a job that didn't have to be done at all.

Plus there's the salary of the guy out on vacation that the other two are filling in for. Quadruple-and-a-half time?

As The Post reported last week, the biggest earner was Ronald Dunne, who took home $283,373 -- nearly $220,000 in OT...

The huge paydays come at a time when the MTA ... approved a 10 percent across-the-board fare hike and got a $2.3 billion taxpayer bailout to plug a gaping hole in its 2010 budget.

'Nuff said. Because as a New Yorker who's paying that fare hike and the new taxes for that bailout, I can't bear to say any more.