Friday, April 03, 2009

TTC Overtime Nets $100,000+ Earnings for Drivers

One early morning, I waited for the subway train with a gaggle of TTC drivers nearby. They were uncommonly chipper at such an hour, but I guess they were used to getting up and working early. I only half-listened to their conversation but my ears perked up when they started talking about their overtime.
"We anticipate overtime. Individuals who choose to work overtime do so because they wish to. It saves the system money to pay and budget for overtime (rather than) hire additional bodies and pay those benefits. You wouldn't see those names on this list, necessarily, but it would cost the system more money at the end of the day," said [TTC spokesperson Brad] Ross. (Tess Kalinowski, The Toronto Star, 1 April 2009)
These drivers certainly wished to work overtime (OT). And perhaps the naive Mr. Ross is right. Drivers earning more than $100,000 -- $40,000 more than their base pay -- is cheaper than hiring sufficient bodies. But I wonder how much overtime would be filed if management cottoned on to how drivers play the OT game and thus put guards in place against the game.

Some of these early-morning drivers discussed whether they'd show up or not to their regular hours vs. their OT hours, and all of them had obviously figured out how to up their earnings through OT (a little mutual back scratching) while not increasing the number of hours actually worked by too much. Union workers in general know which days, which hours, will net them overtime as opposed to regular time pay, and some will up their earnings by working those days and times. But this sounded like a more sophisticated play of the system, which they all laughed and chatted about.

Meanwhile, the TTC is the second-highest expenditure in Toronto's budget, after the police, and almost every year like clockwork Toronto city politicians threaten fare hikes to pay for a better system, but I'm betting it's more for these workers' comfortable play of the system.

4 comments:

Mark Dowling said...

my concern about TTC overtime is the number of front line staff - drivers and collectors - working long hours. In the drivers case, presumably there isa regulated maximum, but perhaps the surliness of some collectors is owing to their working far beyond a proper work-life balance?

talk talk talk / Shireen said...

I heard a long, long time ago that drivers didn't like the shift schedule of 4 hours on, 4 hours off, 4 hours on. It kind of screws up a normal life. I don't know if they still have that kind of schedule or if the TTC finally fixed it.

I have to admit though our collectors are pretty chipper compared to New York's! (The odd one notwithstanding.)

krupo said...

Ah, financial and operational business controls - sounds like something up my alley.

Though I know from first-hand accounts that the TTC isn't the only city organ where employees are playing the system. It's rather annoying when you realize you're paying for it.

talk talk talk / Shireen said...

Yup! My first thought was all those unaffordable (for me) fare hikes were paying for them to do this.