After months of wrangling over data, it wasn't until Dec. 23 that CTA officials dropped a bombshell to finally explain why their figure for overtime paid to employees was millions of dollars lower than the number the Tribune arrived at by analyzing the payroll.
It turned out the CTA for many years has masked its actual overtime expenses by counting only the "half" in the time and a half overtime rate as overtime.
The majority of overtime is lumped into "regular pay."
The Tribune story headlined "Overtime in Overdrive" that was published Sunday found that it's common for CTA workers to double and, in some cases, almost triple their base annual salary by working massive amounts of overtime.
And the CTA feathers their retirement years by computing pensions on a combination of salary and overtime -- a practice that's unheard of in most industries.
If that's not troubling enough to taxpayers and CTA riders worried about fare hikes and service cuts, there's more that the Tribune plans to report this year.
The whole picture is not yet clear, due in part to incomplete and flawed CTA databases. That alone is troubling because it means CTA president Forrest Claypool may not fully understand the mess he has to clean up.
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