labor pains

Metro-North Workers Made Cigarette and Firework Runs on the Clock

Passengers wait as the Metro-North passenger train approaches the platform 21 December, 2005 at the Fordham Rd station in the Bronx borough of New York. Metro-North offered passengers in the Bronx, who normally use subways and buses, an alternative way to get into Manhattan during the transit strike. The city's nearly 34,000 subway and bus workers stayed out for a second day on Wednesday despite a court order fining their union one million dollars per day during the stoppage.
Photo: Don Emmert/AFP Images/Getty

As Connecticut legislators openly pondered whether to replace Metro-North after the railroad’s abysmal safety record of 2013, the New York Times unearthed a letter from the railroad’s inspector general documenting myriad time-sheet abuses by foremen and repair crews. According to inspector Barry Kluger, every single one of the foremen he investigated ran personal errands on company time, and “involved members of his crew in the abuses.” the Times did not detail every errand the employees ran, but those it did report did not consist of school pick-ups and grocery runs and other arguably necessary stuff.

Misdeeds included a foreman and his crew driving to Pennsylvania, at least three times, “apparently to buy cigarettes,” while claiming to be working; another foreman traveling to Pennsylvania, “apparently for fireworks”; and a crew driving, “apparently aimlessly,” for over an hour during a supposed overtime period.

In one case, Mr. Kluger wrote, a foreman filed for almost five days’ pay for work that took less than five hours to complete, in addition to 10 hours of travel time.

It’s not a new problem, apparently. At one time, Metro-North employed an undercover team of inspectors to check up on its on-board employees, but those inspections stopped in 2012 when it turned out those inspectors were filing time sheets for checks they didn’t perform, Connecticut state Representative Jonathan Steinberg said, per the Danbury News Times. So, nice work if you can get it. And there will probably be some job openings soon.

Metro-North Workers Ran Errands on the Clock