Sanitation workers not told about Sandy-related payment errors


| ctumola@queenscourier.com |

FEMA/Photo by Andre R. Aragon
FEMA/Photo by Andre R. Aragon

Sanitation workers who helped clean up debris after Sandy were not informed of adjustments in their paychecks when a review found that some employees were overpaid or underpaid for the work.

Last week, some of the city’s sanitation workers got a surprise in their paycheck — a deduction. In the chaos of Sandy’s aftermath, downed computers and closed garages caused payment errors for the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), according to Harry Nespoli, president of Local 831 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association.

Some workers were overpaid, while others received less than they earned, he said.

After realizing the error and the involvement of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — which is reportedly giving the DSNY $26.3 million to cover Sandy-related overtime work — a review of payment records began. But before the audit was complete, the city started to make the adjustments in workers’ paychecks.

They didn’t inform the union until the day those checks were given to some of the affected workers, Nespoli said. “When you are expecting $500, $600 and have $130 in this economy, there are bills that are not going to be paid,” he said. Nespoli said it was wrong to not inform workers of the pay changes, adding the union should have been involved in the audit from the beginning. The city told me “we always wait until [the review] is over with and then we contact the union,” said Nespoli.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

Once the union found out about the review, it made sure that no more money would be taken out or added to pay checks until the investigation was completed, and that it would be involved with the audit going forward.

“The DSNY is continuing to discuss the results of the audit with the Sanitation Workers’ union in order to reconcile any differences,” said DSNY spokesperson Kathy Dawkins.

Nespoli said he expects the audit to continue through the summer.

 

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