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Sunday, February 21, 2010

 

City will spend $2,000,000 on dinner for workers who stay late

City spending 2 million on dinner pay for workers who stay late

Kathleen Lucadamo
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU

 

Sunday, February 21st 2010, 4:00 AM

 

That's a lot of pizza. The city plans to dish out $2 million on dinner for city workers who stay late. Cross Bronx Pizza, 2170 Cross Bronx Expressway, offers ginormous pies and slices.
Showalter for News

That's a lot of pizza. The city plans to dish out $2 million on dinner for city workers who stay late. Cross Bronx Pizza, 2170 Cross Bronx Expressway, offers ginormous pies and slices.

That's a lot of pizza.

The city plans to dish out $2 million on dinner for city workers who stay late during the next two years, budget documents show.

The so-called "supper money" kicks in after two hours of overtime for all unionized civilian workers, except teachers, under a little-known agreement that left many veterans scratching their head.

"I've heard of it but not in city government," said one longtime city employee.

Half of the funds are set aside for Emergency Service Unit technicians who are entitled to one meal allowance - $8.25 - a shift because they aren't allowed to stop for lunch.

"You don't want to take them out of service and say, 'We aren't going to take that heart attack run because we are going to have a hamburger,'" said city Labor Commissioner Jim Hanley.

Nearly $140,000 is expected to be spent by the Administration for Children's Services this year, and the Civilian Compliant Review Board is budgeted for $35,000. ACS child protective workers are often required to stay late, officials said.

The dining dollars are set by each agency and generally based on previous spending for meals.

Workers - who see the cash in their paycheck, not actual food - are supposed to put in for meal money only if they agree to take comp time instead of paid overtime, Hanley said.

But the rules are fuzzy, even to agency bosses.

One agency confirmed they give employees meal money in addition to paid overtime but asked to not to be named when told of the rules. Agencies must return meal money that isn't used.

The meal money dates back to 1968, when labor leaders drafted the citywide agreement, a contract creating rules for 150,000 unionized civilians, Hanley said.

The current allowance - from $8.25 for two consecutive hours of overtime to $12.75 for 15 consecutive hours of overtime - hasn't been raised since 1999, the agreement shows.

Although Bloomberg is asking agencies to do more with less and pushing unions to give up benefits to plug a $4 billion budget gap, the meal money isn't something officials are fighting to remove.

"It's not one of the front-burner issues," Hanley said.

Nonunion workers - mainly managers and political appointees - were surprised their counterparts are getting a free lunch.

"Usually if we are here late, I just wait until I get home and have a sandwich," said one worker.

Uniformed services, including police and fire departments, and teachers don't follow the rules of the citywide agreement and can't cash in on the meal perk. 

 Asked why those unions aren't entitled to food pay, Hanley said, "We bargain well for the city on behalf of our taxpayers."

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/02/21/2010-02-21_city_chewing_up_2m_workers_who_stay_late_get_dinner_pay_in_little_known_deal.html#ixzz0gE2t4Rsv


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