BC: Transit Police Audit Blog #2 – Robbing the Reduced Work Week Bank
Two weeks ago, the Transit Police released the Vancouver Police Department audit into their operations. The Transit Police tried to spin it as somehow validating their existence but that line flopped as they defended themselves over high overtime rates, the Sunday pay premium (first broken by the CTF here) and the fact that crime on transit dropped at only half the rate crime dropped everywhere else in the Lower Mainland.
The CTF was all over the media in the 48 hours after the audit was released (it should be noted that it was our Freedom of Information request earlier this spring that first asked for the report—we’re not certain the audit would have ever been released if we hadn’t asked for it).
Having had the time now to really digest and work through the audit, I am even more troubled by what has been revealed about Transit Police operations—and what they will do when the long-awaited SkyTrain fare gates finally come online. This week, our CTF blog will feature a five-part series looking at various aspects of the audit. Today is part two—Robbing the Reduced Work Week Bank. For part one—How SNC-Lavalin Outsmarted TransLink on Police Deployment—click here.
While overtime and Sunday premium costs got a lot of play in the media, section 5.24 of the Transit Police audit is incredibly damning. Here’s the section, in its entirety:
“In accordance with paragraph 6 in Section P of the Collective Agreement, Transit Police officers receive a Reduced Work Week Leave bank of 127.5 hours. This is the same leave entitlement TransLink employees receive in exchange for working 30 additional minutes per day on top of their 7-hour shift, as described in paragraph 10.01 of the Collective Agreement. However, operational Transit Police officers do not work 30 additional minutes per day. In fact, they are paid 2,080 hours per year but are scheduled to work an average of 2,008 hours (i.e. 182.5 shifts of 11 hours each). There is therefore no apparent reason for them to receive 127.5 hours of Reduced Work Week Leave. TransLink and the Transit Police are essentially giving up these 127.5 hours for free. The opportunity cost for the Transit Police is equivalent to roughly $5,000 per officer or up to $825,000 overall per year.”
How would you like to be paid for 127.5 extra hours next year—without having to work a second of that time? That’s the life of a transit cop in Greater Vancouver. They are paid for an extra 11.59 shifts a year, without working a moment!
This extra time is on top of their regular vacation time, banked overtime and Sunday premiums (where transit officers are paid a 25 per cent bonus for working Sundays).
Between this $825,000 waste and the $350,000 Sunday premium waste, transit cops are taking home $1.175 million extra from taxpayers.
It’s unclear from the audit if this costing includes the civilian Transit Police staff—could this number be even higher?
That $1.175 million is on top of the $1.2 million in overtime the police collect every year. Add those figures together and you have nearly 10 per cent of the total Transit Police budget—just in overtime and ridiculous salary/time off bonuses. As the audit noted, “For comparison purposes, $600,000 in overtime was billed to the entire VPD patrol area in 2009. The VPD patrol area includes 677 sworn officers divided between 46 regular patrol teams, a Mounted Squad and a Marine Unit.”
So the average Transit Police officers gets $6,900 extra in overtime, $2,000 extra in Sunday premiums and $5,000 for the “Reduced” work week. That’s $13,900 each.
No wonder you can’t find a transit police officer making less than $75,000 a year—and 66 of them make more than $100,000 annually. Who negotiated this contract on behalf of TransLink? Hopefully they aren’t negotiating the next Transit Police deal!