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Union wins change to CUNY overtime cap

NO CAP on overtime thanks to the union and these CUNY techs in Local 2627.

The union settled separate overtime grievances on behalf of three City University information technology workers after CUNY agreed to convert their accrued comp time to cash to fairly compensate the Local 2627 members.

The cases have far-reaching benefits for DC 37 members who work for the City University of New York.

“The adjustment to how CUNY compensates its workers for overtime has major implications for all white collar employees and for some blue collar DC 37 members employed at CUNY who are covered by this agreement,” said Division Director Tyler Hemingway.

Council Rep Norlita De Taza filed the grievances for information technology associates Jaime Guerrero and Jonathan Zhao, who each worked more than 50 hours overtime, and Allen Chang, who logged over 38 hours of overtime.

“IT requires scheduled maintenance that’s done during off hours,” said Zhao, an 18-year senior associate. “Management approved the overtime but when we submitted our timesheets, we were told based on our title we were ineligible for OT pay. Previously CUNY paid us time-and-a-half for the same work. It was frustrating, so we pushed back and called the union.”

The grievances led the union and CUNY management to reexamine the overtime salary cap language in the white collar contract.

CUNY’s labor director and union negotiator Mark Heron both read the white collar agreement to mean the overtime cap is based on year-to-date earnings.

Their conclusion reverses CUNY’s longstanding policy that capped overtime pay based on whether the employee’s annual gross salary was more than $75,625. In the past, if an employee’s salary, differentials and other payments exceeded the cap, CUNY considered him or her ineligible for cash payment and would only offer the worker comp time.

“Offering comp time for assigned overtime hours is not pensionable. Cash payments at time-and-a-half for overtime beyond the 40-hour workweek are pensionable,” said De Taza.

“The union helped us tremendously,” said Zhao. “We don’t have to take whatever management says — we have a union. We are a very unique group. I told my coworkers, ‘We have to stand up for ourselves.’”

“We would have never achieved this without our union,” he added. “We couldn’t have done it on our own.”

“It’s great that members came together and got their just due in cash,” said interim Local 2627 President Cody Childs. “Comp time is use it or lose it. CUNY did the right thing and converted the comp time into cash. This ends the unjust overtime cap and compensates employees for their hard work with pensionable income.”