MTA to turn fingerprint timeclocks back on after COVID pause


It’s a touchy subject.

The MTA will reactivate the fingerprint readers on its high-tech timeclocks after suspending the feature in the earliest days of COVID-19, acting MTA Chairman Janno Lieber told The Post’s Editorial Board on Tuesday.

“It’s going to happen sometime soon. We’re looking at it,” Lieber said after The Post pressed him on the MTA’s 20-month-long suspension of the fingerprint technology, which was recommended by outside consultants in 2019 to prevent and catch wage fraud.

But the head of the MTA’s largest union promised to fight Lieber’s push to revive fingerprint scans.

“That doesn’t many any sense,” TWU Local 100 Tony Utano said in a statement. “We’re still in a pandemic, and there’s a new variant that’s spreading.”

Lack of oversight of worker hours at the MTA has resulted in multiple prosecutions — including of the agency’s 2018 “Overtime King” Thomas Caputo. The feds say the former LIRR employee conspired with coworkers to land jobs on mega-projects where they could get away with sleeping or playing hooky out of view of LIRR management.

Tony Utano, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 100
TWU Local 100 Tony Utano blasted the MTA’s decision amid the rise of COVID-19 cases from the Omicron variant.
William Farrington

MTA officials nixed the fingerprint requirement for workers clocking in and out in March 2020 as the coronavirus’s first wave swept through New York City. At the time, scientists had not figured out how much the virus spreads through surfaces.

Evidence now shows the virus rarely spreads on surfaces, although that hasn’t stopped the MTA from continuing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to “disinfect” stations, trains and buses.

A fingerprint time card reader was previously vandalized at an MTA office in Livingston, Brooklyn in 2019.
The MTA plans on reintroducing fingerprint time card readers to stop employees from logging in false overtime hours.
Gabriella Bass

MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny has repeatedly dinged transit leaders for keeping the fingerprint readers turned off long into the pandemic. She previously accused workers of vandalizing the clocks.

“It’s not an overnight thing, but the advantage of the fingerprints needs to be utilized,” Lieber said Tuesday of his plan to get the tech back up and running. “So that’ll happen, maybe not in the next month, but it will happen.”

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