As city drivers brace for congestion-pricing tolls to take effect June 15, the MTA’s payroll hit a jaw-dropping $7.8 billion, while its overtime expenses hit a new record high last year — $1.37 billion, up 6% since 2022.

Which raises the obvious risk that the agency’s congestion-pricing windfall will get eaten up by labor costs, rather than covering the capital spending it’s supposed to fuel.

The OT abuse is largely enabled by the agency’s labor contracts, especially at the LIRR; to end it, MTA chief Janno Lieber needs political support (that’d be you, Gov. Hochul) to negotiate work-rule changes.

Overall, 724 MTA workers each collected more than $100,000 in overtime in the last year.

As usual, LIRR workers raked in the most per-employee overtime, averaging $26,028 in 2023.

Total payroll costs rose $663 million, and outpaced inflation at most of the MTA’s eight subsidiaries.

Back in 2019, a report by Morrison & Foerster LLP issued 15 recommendations to curb OT that have largely been ignored. Among them:

  • Do a cost-benefit analysis on paying OT versus making new hires. This is technically within management power, but at the risk of outraging workers who now expect to pile on overtime, especially to pad their pensions as they near retirement.
  • Keep an eye on high earners to limit their OT, and get caps on overtime into the labor contracts.
  • Also win work-rule changes so the MTA doesn’t have to pay OT for shifts not spent actually working.

Last year, a Post investigation found that insane work rules and similar inefficiencies at the LIRR cost the MTA at least $200 million a year.

An MTA inspector general investigation fingered more lunacy in the LIRR’s labor agreements, like: “Overtime must be offered to the most senior Track employees first, even if it would result in many hours worked consecutively.”

The Post and the Empire Center have steadily shined a light on the MTA’s out-of-control OT costs, but nothing changes — except that the MTA has stopped releasing detailed OT reports for independent analysis.

Lieber needs to face down the unions, but he can’t unless Hochul will back him up when they threaten to strike.

And the gov likes to portray herself as organized labor’s favorite daughter. Can she manage a “Nixon goes to China” moment and demand a cleanup at the LIRR (at least)?

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