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More documents, allegations emerge in Battle Creek overtime flap

Updated: Friday, January 10, 2014 |
More documents, allegations emerge in Battle Creek overtime flap story image
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - After the Newschannel 3 I-Team looked into allegations of time card fraud in Battle Creek's City Hall, the City Manager is calling foul.

Last week, the I-Team reported that the Department of Labor is investigating allegations from employees that their time cards are being deliberately changed to save money.

Thursday night, the I-Team uncovered an email sent by the City Manager to all Battle Creek employees.

In it, he says his comments were "misrepresented" in order to "sensationalize" the story.

Since the email, more Battle Creek employees have come forward with documentation to support their claims.

It's typically a matter of about 10 minutes, they say, usually in the morning or possibly after lunch, but they say it easily adds up to a couple of hours a week.

And even at $8 per hour, that's more than $1,000 per year for each employee.

They say they're sick of it, and that's why they went to the Department of Labor.

They all say the same thing: they're "required to be in early" to prepare for their shifts, but when they enter the actual start time, they find their supervisor "scratched it off" their time card.

"If that's the case, we need to make sure that doesn't happen unless there is truly an error in the time card to begin with," said Battle Creek City Manager Ken Tsuchiyama last week, when first asked about the allegations.

It was at that time when he told Newschannel 3 that the allegations were first brought to his attention around 3 weeks prior.

Internal correspondence obtained by the I-Team, however, indicates that whether City Manager Tsuchiyama knew it or not, overtime increments being being recorded incorrectly has been an issue since at least last winter.

But in no way does it prove fraud.

"In my mind, that means that we are going back and changing an employee's, someone is changing an employee's time card," Tsuchiyama said.

A notice from Battle Creek Employee Services explains employees must be paid for every tenth of an hour, or as little as four minutes on the clock, but employees tell Newschannel 3 that the treasurer ignored that.

They provided an email sent from the Treasurer exclusively to employees in the Treasury and Water Billing Departments, saying "tenths should not show up on the time cards."

So, employees stopped coming in ten minutes early as ordered, because they weren't being paid for it.

But they claim, "when you come in just a couple of minutes early, she writes you up for being late."

We called several Battle Creek city commissioners, as well as the Mayor, looking for comment on the story, but it was after 5:00 p.m., and we haven't heard back from any of them at this time.

We left a voicemail for City Manager Tsuchiyama, who replied by email. He said in part:

"I don't know what you're hearing from employees, but until we have things in final form from the (Department of Labor), I really have no comment.

"Sorry you found my email message to employees disappointing, but I obviously was, and am, disappointed with your report," he added.

To see our full interview with City Manager Tsuchiyama, click here.
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Business News

Last Update on July 28, 2014 07:39 GMT

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BEIJING (AP) -- Asian stock markets are mostly higher today, shrugging off jitters about stiffer Western sanctions against Russia, after China reported strong corporate profits.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index surged 2.4 percent to 2,178.50. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 added 0.4 percent to 15,512.95 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 1 percent at 24,466.96. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.8 percent to 2,050.19. Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 bucked the regional trend and was flat at 5,583.90.

Profits at China's industrial enterprises soared 17.9 percent in June over a year earlier, the government reported. For the first half of the year, profits were up 11.4 percent, a new high for that period.

The price of oil fell a little, with benchmark U.S. crude for September delivery down 33 cents at $101.76 a barrel.

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- A busy week of economic data and corporate earnings reports will be capped off Friday with the government's monthly jobs report.

But the first numbers come this morning when the National Association of Realtors releases its pending home sales index for June. Contracts to buy US homes were up 6.1 percent in May, the sharpest month-over-month gain in more than four years. However, the index remained below its level of a year ago.

On Tuesday, Standard & Poor's releases the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for May, while the Conference Board releases its Consumer Confidence Index, and Federal Reserve policymakers begin a two-day meeting to set interest rates. That, of course, means attention will be focused on the Fed on Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday morning, the Commerce Department releases its estimate of second-quarter gross domestic product.

Thursday, the Labor Department releases the second-quarter employment cost index and its weekly report on weekly jobless claims, while Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates.

The Labor Department releases employment data for July on Friday, while the Commerce Department releases personal income and spending for June and construction spending. Also Friday, the Institute for Supply Management releases its manufacturing index for July.

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CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) -- A national survey finds the average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline has plummeted 9 cents a gallon over the past two weeks to $3.58.

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Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday the decrease came despite a rise in crude-oil prices.

Lundberg says U.S. refiners, enjoying plentiful supplies, aggressively cut wholesale prices to chase sales.

Midgrade averages were $3.78, and premium averages were $3.93.

The U.S. average retail diesel price is down 4 cents per gallon, to $3.90.

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The lowest average price in California was $3.86 in Sacramento.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Saturday that Nissan North America Inc. is recalling certain lines of its Infiniti, Maxima, Pathfinder and Sentra cars for the model years 2002 to 2004.

It had previously announced a recall of more than 438,000 vehicles.

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The air bags systems were made by Tokyo-based Takata Corp. The air bag inflators can rupture, causing metal fragments to fly out when the air bags are deployed. That can potentially cause serious injuries.

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More than 1,300 workers gathered Saturday in Villa Park, Illinois. They voted to add sit-down strikes and restaurant occupations to their campaign to win $15-an-hour wages and a union.

Industry officials say a $15-an-hour wage would hurt job creation, and that the solution is more education and job training.

Cindy Enriquez said at the convention that the $8.25 she makes an hour at a McDonalds in Phoenix makes her dream of going to college impossible.

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Their actions so far have included one-day strikes and a protest outside this year's McDonald's Corp. shareholder meeting.

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OCEAN BLASTING

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The U.S. Geological Survey plans this summer and next to map the outer limits of the continental shelf, and also study underwater landslides that would help predict where and when tsunamis might occur.

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