The legal battle over the city’s malfunctioning new payroll software system is widening, with 17 corrections officers suing over missing overtime pay and four more unions representing thousands of city workers filing their own claims.
The lawsuit by the corrections officers, filed last week in federal court, says they have been affected more than some other workers because their jobs require significant overtime work.
“The corrections officers of the City of Philadelphia work many, many hours overtime, and since OnePhilly has been announced, for the most part, they haven’t been able to receive any of their overtime compensation,” said Howard Trubman, a lawyer representing the officers.
Meanwhile, lawyers representing three locals from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the city over OnePhilly, the beleaguered system.
The lawsuit describes “widespread payroll errors,” seeks immediate repayment for unpaid wages, and calls for a court-appointed administrator “with expertise in information systems” to manage the city’s payroll operations until the new software is fixed or replaced.
Deborah Willig, of Willig, Williams & Davidson, said that while the problems aren’t as bad as when the system first rolled out, there are still significant issues with people not getting the correct payroll deductions, overtime and some employees are sometimes not paid at all.
“I’m shocked the Kenney administration has not filed suit against the vendor,” Willig said Wednesday, adding that Ciber, the main vendor, has been unable to fix the problems with a system it designed.
The locals Willig is representing join the corrections workers and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, which last week became the first municipal union to announce it was suing over OnePhilly. The police union’s president, John McNesby, has called on Mayor Jim Kenney to change the leadership of the team managing the project.
A $40 million information-technology project launched in former Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration, OnePhilly was designed to replace the city’s antiquated systems for timekeeping, payroll, pensions, and benefits and combine those functions into one platform. But the March rollout of the software’s payroll program has led to hundreds of complaints from city workers about incorrect paychecks, missing overtime pay, and inaccurate tax withholdings.
The Kenney administration has acknowledged the widespread problems with OnePhilly, apologized to city workers, and vowed to fix it.
“We understand the ongoing frustration of the city workers whose unions are considering these actions,” Kenney spokesperson Mike Dunn said. "We are frustrated as well.
"Over many months, the OnePhilly team has held numerous face-to-face meetings with both DC33 and DC47 leadership to hear their concerns and work toward resolutions. Even if these specific locals move forward with legal action, we hope to continue meeting with leaders of both unions and continue the spirit of cooperation that has marked this admittedly difficult process.”
Two of the plaintiffs in the AFSCME lawsuit are part of white-collar District Council 47: Local 2186, which represents first-level supervisors, and 2187, for the city’s professional, technical, and administrative employees. The other one, which is part of the blue-collar District Council 33, is Local 159, for prison system employees.