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  Public Employee Press

PEP Dec 2006
Table of Contents
  La Voz

Public Employee Press

DOT owes L. 1157 member $29K for 9/11 overtime

PAID IN FULL: Local 1157’s Willie Tucker Sr. will get about $29,000 in overtime pay that DOT management had denied him after WTC clean-up.

An impartial arbitrator at the Board of Collective Bargaining ordered the Dept. of Transportation to pay a Local 1157 member more than $29,000 in back wages after it determined the agency improperly withheld overtime work assignments during the World Trade Center clean-up operation.

DC 37 and Local 1157 filed a grievance in 2001 for 48-year DOT veteran Willie Tucker Sr., a Supervisor Highway Repairer.

The union charged DOT violated the collective bargaining agreement when it unfairly denied Tucker overtime assignments, assigned him duties that were substantially different from his job specifications and failed to pay him for overtime after 9/11.

Blue Collar Division Council Rep Bill Fenty and DC 37 Legal Dept. attorney Diana York took the case to step 3 and then arbitration. They argued Tucker was denied around 953 hours of overtime shared by other supervisors and was denied more than 1,500 hours of overtime in 2002. At best, Tucker was assigned only a couple of overtime hours that year, Fenty said.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, New York City employees in Blue Collar agencies were required to work 12-hour shifts, “on instant standby to react.” The majority were assigned to ongoing clean-up at and around Ground Zero, the Staten Island landfill and the city morgue.

That September, Tucker’s DOT manager issued a memorandum specifying that Tucker not work any overtime without written permission. At the hearing the manager said Tucker did not have the “skills … physical capability…. speed” and he was “uncomfortable giving him certain assignments.” But Tucker said his work was never criticized and witnesses testified he was a good supervisor.

The union argued that if Tucker was no longer competent to perform, DOT would have been required to serve Tucker charges and provide him a full evidentiary hearing on the matter prior to relieving him of his supervisory duties, or taken other disciplinary action against him, which DOT did not do.

The arbitrator wrote, “There was no testimony or evidence that could lead me to make a finding that Tucker’s knowledge or abilities to perform supervisory duties were suddenly diminished during September 2001 as compared to his performance prior to that date,” and decided in the union’s favor.

While the “award does not question management’s right to determine when overtime is to be scheduled,” the arbitrator wrote, “I did not agree that the distribution of overtime can be assigned arbitrarily, without recourse.” DOT and the union were left to calculate the pay out. “This case demonstrates that the union will not allow management to unfairly deprive a member of contractual benefits enjoyed by his or her co-workers,” said DC 37 General Counsel Eddie Demmings.




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