Like this is going to work out to everyone's benefit

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Cook County's overtime time bomb
County workers stash overtime hours now -- for high pay later

If Joseph Lafata were to retire anytime soon from his job as a maintenance supervisor with the Cook County Highway Department, he'd have a nice cushion to take with him into retirement: a $60,000 payout for more than 1,000 overtime hours that he has accumulated -- hours that, in theory, he's supposed to take as paid time off.

County highway workers have amassed mountains of what's called "time-off overtime" -- TOOT, for short -- a Chicago Sun-Times review of county records shows, with Lafata piling up more overtime than anyone else.

The idea behind TOOT is this: Rather than pay county highway employees for all the extra hours they might end up working from week to week, some of them are allowed to take paid time off later.

But rather than do that, many have been accumulating it and then cashing in when they retire or leave their county job months or years later -- when their salaries are higher. Then, they are paid for that time at their final salary, which is sometimes much higher than what they were making when they accumulated the time.

In all, county records obtained by the Sun-Times show, highway workers have banked 44,000 hours of overtime currently worth about $2.2 million. Forty-one people -- more than 14 percent of everyone on the Highway Department payroll -- have each stacked up more than 300 hours, or nearly eight weeks.

Another 50 highway workers are sitting on 200 to 300 hours of accumulated overtime, records show.

And these aren't working stiffs earning minimum wage either:

Engineering assistant Michael Ponticelli, who makes $74,000 a year, has the second-most accumulated overtime, with more than 979 hours -- or $53,000 -- due him. Next on the list: engineer Bharat Patel, who makes $81,610.88 a year and has cached 824 hours of overtime. Maintenance supervisor James Poelsterl has banked 775 hours.

None of those employees returned calls seeking comment.

Just business as usual in Chicago...

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on April 27, 2009 4:34 PM.

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