In Subway Signal Inspection Scandal, Union Puts Blame on Management
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Transport Workers Union President John Samuelsen slammed the planned arrests on Friday of 10 NY MTA workers for faking signal inspections in the subway. The workers allegedly falsely claimed they checked the signals that keep trains moving smoothly and prevent them from crashing into each other.
The NY Daily News first reported the story; a spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance confirmed to WNYC that the arrests are pending.
Samuelsen said the workers, who are expected to be charged with felonies, are low level signal maintainers and managers whose supervisors either assigned them excessive workloads or falsified the inspection records without the workers’ knowledge.
“It’s astounding to us that the senior level bosses that orchestrated this entire charade, this entire issue that led to fraudulent signal inspections have been untouched by the district attorney,” Samuelsen said.
He said senior management imposed “ridiculous workloads” and put “severe pressure on low-level field level supervisors and signal maintainers to perform fraudulent signal inspections.”
Samuelsen further maintained that that a bar code system used to verify work “was so corrupt that any over-zealous manager could input an employee’s identification credentials and sign for as much equipment as he felt necessary to complete the 100 percent goals.”
He claimed the real perpetrators of subway signal inspection fraud, which has been under investigation by NY MTA Inspector General Barry Kluger since 2010, had so far gone untouched. “There’s an absolute witch hunt going on here against transit workers and low level supervisors while the big bosses hide behind the curtains,” he said.
Neither the Manhattan District Attorney’s office nor Kluger would comment further on the case.
But MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg weighed in. He said, “If Mr. Samuelsen has any information that people involved in fraudulent signal inspections have not been prosecuted, he should present it to the district attorney.”
NY MTA Signal Division Chairman John Chiarello told WNYC that TWU members arrested in the so-called Signalgate investigation could expect to be backed by the union as they make their way through the legal system. “Leadership of the union is going to stand behind the members and we’re going to defend them,” he said.