Saturday, September 27, 2003

27 home sick after ruling on overtime

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A job action at the Greater Cincinnati Water Works led 27 water line repair workers to call in sick Friday, city officials said.

Water Works Director David Rager said the workers are angry about new work rules that limit overtime.

"We've changed some of our scheduling procedures to change the amount of overtime we have to give out, and they're not happy with it. We're trying to control costs," he said.

Rager said there are 80 distribution line workers in the division.

Union leaders did not return phone calls Friday.

Rager said the union told him the workers were upset with the new rules, but said they did not authorize the action and would instruct members to return to work.

The missing employees probably won't hurt the department's ability to respond if a water main breaks over the weekend, Rager said.

In addition to the employees who are reporting to work, he said, the department has standing contracts with private companies to do emergency work.

The workers could face disciplinary action if the city can prove they weren't sick.

"At this point I'm assuming the people who called in sick are actually sick," Rager said. "We have had the flu going through our building, believe it or not. Still, 27 people in one division is an unusually high number."


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