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Feelings of entitlement are one of the unhappy byproducts of entitlement programs, and such feeling may also be what fueled the alleged misconduct described in today’s report, based on a story in The Journal News by Cara Matthews. According to the state’s comptroller, construction workers on the Metro-North railroad in upstate New York benefited from more than $1 million in avoidable overtime. But this story isn’t as simple as randomly drawing that card in the boardgame Monopoly: ”Bank error in your favor, collect $200.’? No, this appears to be a story of organizational complicity, a combination of bad-policies, constrictive labor rules and those ”feelings of entitlement.’? (Seems like this feeling permeates most of the stories we cover.)

”Management has tolerated manipulation of the system by both supervisors and workers,” said Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The manipulation of shifts for 28 workers alone cost the state $991,208 in overtime and over $200,000 in rest shifts. What’s worse, for six employees eligible for pensions, the manipulation increased the benefits they’d receive over 25 years by $5.5 million? (Wow! That’s like getting a pension bonus!)

No arrests have been made to date; however, the comptroller’s allegations raise serious questions about management and oversight. The article reports that a good portion of the increases were carried out by supervisors, who approved their own timecards (how nice is that?) and increased their pensions by adding pension ”enrichments.’? Some even went so far as to charge payroll costs to unrelated capital projects, the article says, ”so they could avoid detection.’? If true, employees exploited labor contract provisions, enabling supervisors to give nighttime overtime shifts to employees who work day shifts. As DiNapoli said: ”Federal laws implemented to protect riders were exploited to enrich employees at the expense of taxpayers.’? The same taxpayers who saw prices increase and service decrease. One New York state senator called it ”unconscionable.” (I can think of a few more words, how about you?)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Comptroller: Metro-North workers got more than $1 million in ‘avoidable’ OT,” by Cara Matthews in The Journal News, November 10, 2011.

ALBANY — Metro-North Railroad construction workers received more than $1 million last year in “avoidable” overtime and “rest shifts,” according to a state audit released Wednesday.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said supervisors and employees at Metro-North’s 30-member Signal Construction Unit for the Hudson and Harlem lines abused overtime rules to inflate their salaries and pensions.

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