MTA officials vowed today to implement "stronger management controls" to crack down on rampant overtime and sick time abuse.
The cash-strapped agency said it spends $560 million annually on overtime, which is 13 percent of its total payroll.
The MTA said one of the biggest problems is that more than a quarter of its employees use more than 15 sick days per year.
"There's a certain percentage of employees who take the mental health day. They wake up and say 'I don't feel like working today,'" he said.
Jim Gannon, spokesman for TWU Local 100, said that MTA management already has a stringent policy in place to control sick time.
"Management already has a strict sick control policy, negotiated with the union, including the requirement of doctor's lines in many cases," Gannon said. "They're insinuating there is no policy, which is not the case."
Prendergast said by using banked sick time, some workers are able to get paid for five days of work yet only come in three days.
"In order for us to fill in the two days that he has called in sick, we need to fill the shifts," he said.
"Overtime is an enabler," added Prendergast. "It's costing us money."
The union claims extensive overtime is management's fault, not the fault of the workers -- and Gannon says it's only going to get worse.
"To complain about overtime is a self-indictment. Management controls overtime, not the union," he said. "In many cases overtime is mandatory. And with all the job cuts, overtime will go up, not down."