News 12 Long Island
Posted: May 09, 2019 5:54 PM EDT Updated: May 09, 2019 9:33 PM EDT
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s use of its police force to take attendance and monitor Long Island Rail Road workers’ overtime is drawing fierce criticism from the railroad’s top union boss.
“They’re calling us criminals,” says Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation union chairman Anthony Simon. “They’re spying on us, and they’re painting us all with a broad brush.”
MTA police began visiting LIRR facilities this week, checking employee attendance cards and time sheets in hopes of capping workers’ overtime. The move comes after a state fiscal watchdog report revealed that the LIRR shelled out $224 million for overtime in 2018, up $50 million from the previous year.
MTA Chairman Pat Foye said in a statement: “Civilians and MTA Police are doing random checks of our facilities for the safety and security of our customers and employees, and to protect the taxpayers against potential abuse and excessive overtime. This measure should be a welcome step. New Yorkers deserve to get what they pay for.”
Simon says the misuse of police resources puts the public in “jeopardy,” an that officers should be focusing on fare evaders and crime instead.
Kristen Shaw, a LIRR rider from Babylon, also says the officers are best suited ensuring the safety of the community.
Simon also says the MTA’s handling of the overtime scandal is hurting morale among workers.
The MTA board plans to hold an emergency meeting Friday about the ballooning overtime costs.