NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is looking into possible sabotage.
The agency said it appears someone cut the wires on a Long Island Rail Road clock meant to track workers’ overtime at a station in Jamaica, Queens.
The MTA’s new inspector general, Carolyn Pokorny, stopped by the station Wednesday.
At the center of her investigation: a severed cord. It was supposed to hook up to a new biometric timekeeping clock, requiring LIRR employees to scan their fingerprints while checking in or out of work.
A note above the soon-to-be clock reads, “To my fellow crazy coworkers, if you don’t want cameras in the booth and wherever you work, please do not cut the cord again.”
The MTA said it is installing the new timekeeping machines to prevent overtime abuse in the midst of a recent scandal.
A study by the Empire Center found the MTA spent $418 million in overtime last year. This, as the agency tries to come up with $500 million in savings by the end of next year to pay for repairs.
“Biometric clocks are being installed across the MTA to prevent overtime abuse and protect taxpayer dollars, and it is shocking and unacceptable to learn that one of these devices has been sabotaged,” Pokorny said in a statement. “This office will have zero tolerance for any sabotaging of the equipment that is vital for ensuring the integrity of our timekeeping system, and I am directing our office to both work with the MTA Police to determine who performed this illegal act, and investigate whether this matter demands additional reforms and precautions across the LIRR system.”
Two LIRR unions said the MTA should investigate whether there was a problem with installation.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous, especially without any conclusive evidence at this point, to start making accusations that this is somehow employee sabotage,” Christopher Natale, general chairman of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen Local 56, told CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis. “This is nothing more than political games here. They’re looking to cement their position that the employees are somehow responsible for their mismanagement of money and overtime and looking for a scapegoat.”
Natale added he would like to be part of the conversation as the MTA works to get to the bottom of this.
“I think before we go out with full press releases calling it sabotage, they should fully investigate to be sure it was in fact sabotage and not an issue with installation. That should take place first before passing judgement on railroad employees,” Anthony Simon, general chairman of the SMART Transportation Division, said in a statement of his own.
The inspector general said confidential tip lines and emails have been set up as part of the investigation. Anyone with information should call 1-800-MTA-IG4U (1-800-682-4448) or email Complaints@mtaig.org.