Union members lash out at emergency meeting for LIRR OT pay

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NEW YORK -

Union members lashed out at the MTA Friday over efforts to keep overtime pay for LIRR employees in check.

The MTA's labor force pushed back at an emergency meeting in Manhattan against accusations from the agency's leadership of workers fraudulently collecting overtime pay. Both sides came together to address the report by a fiscal watchdog group that revealed the LIRR paid out $224 million in overtime pay last year - a nearly $50 million increase from 2017.

Union bosses said it is unfair for MTA leadership to paint all workers with a broad brush.

"You're assigning the overtime. Is there an allegation that somehow union-represented workers at the MTA have made their own OT? Conjured up their own overtime? Given themselves OT?" asks John Samuelsen, president of the Transport Workers Union. "It all comes from the bosses. This is not us. This is a management problem."

MORE: MTA uses its officers to police excessive LIRR overtime | Watchdog: LIRR worker made over $340K in overtime in 2018 

Samuelsen added that he wouldn't be surprised if some workers refuse overtime in protest against the MTA's handling of the controversy.

"I would be shocked if this doesn't organically resonate across the subway tracks, the bus system, the railroad tracks, in a dip in productivity to add to all the problems of mismanagement that you're already suffering," says Samuelsen.

MTA board chairman Patrick Foye announced five workers have either already been disciplined or will be sanctioned for overtime abuses. He also says the MTA will no longer have its police officers monitor overtime practices at LIRR facilities.

As News 12 reported, union bosses were outraged when the MTA began policing overtime with its police force, calling it insulting and irresponsible.

An MTA Board member also called on the agency to hire a former prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation of overtime abuses at the MTA.

The overtime controversy comes as the MTA prepares to enter contract negotiations with most of its unions.

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