BART janitor quadruples $57,000 salary to over $270,000 with OT, benefits

Today, Transparent California released 2015 public employee compensation data — complete with names, pay, and benefits — for over 100,000 special district workers statewide.

A San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) system service worker — a position described as performing janitorial work — appeared to work an average of 114 hours a week last year, based on the $162,050 OT payout he collected on top of his $57,945 regular salary.

This is the third year in a row Liang Zhao Zhang received overtime pay (OT) pay in excess of his regular salary.

Lang’s $271,243 in total pay and benefits last year was nearly quadruple his regular salary, with similar excess having occurred consistently over the past three years, as reflected in his combined $682,000 compensation received over that time period.

While Zhang was the only service worker to clear over $200k in 2014, the 2015 report contained four BART janitors on that list — all of who also received OT payouts in excess of their regular salaries.

The high concentration of OT in a select few employees appears to violate BART guidelines that overtime pay be “rotated equally,” according to Transparent California’s research director Robert Fellner.

“It’d be great if all janitors were paid $200k, but I seriously doubt many of BART’s riders — who must pay for this excess — are ever afforded that opportunity.”

Fellner noted that, even when excluding benefits, the average BART service worker was paid $77,777 last year, nearly triple the $28,720 earned by janitors statewide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In total, BART spent over $470 million on employee compensation last year —10 percent more than what was spent in 2014.

“In addition to violating guidelines, it’s hard to imagine how paying amounts so far in excess of the market wage for routine jobs like custodial workers can possibly be efficient.

“BART must do a much better job of being responsible stewards of the tax dollars they already collect, before expecting voters to support their request for a property tax hike.”

Port of Oakland custodian clears over $200k

The data also reveals that most custodians at the Port of Oakland made at least $100,000 in pay and benefits last year, with Obdulia Ramos’ $203,000 pay package topping the list.

Top Bay Area earners

Washington Hospital Healthcare System CEO Nancy Farber’s $931,839 compensation package was the largest of any Bay Area special district worker.

The three highest-compensated Bay Area special district workers, excluding hospitals or healthcare systems were:

  1. San Ramon Valley fire chief Paige Meyer, who collected $510,671 in compensation — more than half of which went towards retirement and health benefits.
  2. San Ramon Valley battalion chief Daniel McNamara, who collected $485,251.
  3. East Bay Municipal Utility District GM Alexander Coate, who collected $478,077.

The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection’s $294,035 average compensation package for full-time, year-round employees was the highest of any special district surveyed statewide.

Compensation is defined as total wages plus the employer cost of retirement and health benefits. Full-time, year-round employees are defined as those receiving a salary equal or greater to 90 percent of the “annual salary minimum” reported.

To explore the data further, please visit TransparentCalifornia.com

To schedule an interview with Transparent California, please contact Robert Fellner at 559-462-0122 or Robert@TransparentCalifornia.com.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

Sacramento Metro Fire Captain paid $1.1 million over the past four years

Today, Transparent California released 2015 public employee compensation data — complete with names, pay, and benefits — for over 100,000 special district workers statewide.

Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District (Metro Fire) captain Randall Wootton earned $1.1 million over the past four years — thanks to consistently receiving more overtime (OT) pay than any other Metro Fire employee.

2015 was Wootton’s fourth year in a row as Metro Fire’s highest OT-earner, having collected at least $108,000 in OT every year since 2012:

Year

Base Pay

Overtime Pay

Other Pay

Total Pay

2012

$98,028

$108,333

$34,766

$241,127

2013

$98,028

$113,997

$38,703

$250,728

2014

$98,832

$180,018

$37,194

$316,045

2015

$98,832

$129,966

$77,999

$306,797

With benefits included, Wootton received $379,606 in total compensation last year, making him the 4th highest compensated Metro Fire employee.

The three highest compensated Metro Fire employees were:

  1. Battalion chief Charles Jenkins Jr: $412,422
  2. Fire captain Stephen Craig: $381,638
  3. Battalion chief Randall Hein: $379,606

Transparent California research director Robert Fellner noted that overall OT spending declined 2 percent from the previous year, despite the astronomical payouts made to a select few employees.

“It was refreshing to see the chief acknowledge the problem of excessive overtime after last year’s report was released, but this new data makes clear that there is still much work to be done.”

Pay up 10% at SMUD

Sacramento’s largest special district — the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) — spent over $273 million on employee compensation last year, 10 percent more than what was spent in 2014.

The three highest compensated SMUD workers were:

  1. Chief executive officer and general manager Arlen Orchard: $491,380
  2. Chief power supply and grid operations officer Paul Lau: $383,138
  3. Chief financial officer Jamey Tracy: $383,078

Compensation is defined as total wages plus the employer cost of retirement and health benefits. Full-time, year-round employees are defined as those receiving a salary equal or greater to 90 percent of the “annual salary minimum” reported.

To explore the data further, please visit TransparentCalifornia.com

To schedule an interview with Transparent California, please contact Robert Fellner at 559-462-0122 or Robert@TransparentCalifornia.com.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

DWP supervisor, once again, boosts salary to nearly $400,000 with a $216,000 OT payout

Today, Transparent California released 2015 public employee compensation data — complete with names, pay, and benefits — for over 100,000 special districts workers statewide.

The data reveals that Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) Electric Distribution Mechanic Supervisor Joseph Strafford’s $216,741 overtime payout — which boosted his total earnings to $394,549 — was the highest of any special district worker surveyed. This is the 2nd year in a row Stafford has held this distinction, with a $225,000 OT payout topping the 2014 special district list last year.

The next three highest OT payouts amongst special district workers all went to DWP employees:

  1. Steam plant operator Jorge Castillo’s $201,175 OT payout helped boost his $76,000 salary to $293,530.
  2. Steam plant operator Rudy Rivera’s $183,077 OT payout helped boost his $75,000 salary to $276,374.
  3. Steam plant operator Steven Pike’s $176,432 OT payout helped boost his $72,000 salary to $269,796.

In total, the DWP spent $174 million in overtime in 2015 — a nearly 15 percent increase from the previous year.

Transparent California research director Robert Fellner noted that the DWP has a history of overtime abuse, such as a contract provision that pays employees for work performed by outside contractors.

“The DWP serves as a powerful reminder of the folly in blindly assuming that every penny in OT spending is justified.

“Last year’s $174 million in OT spending was nearly double the 2006 amount, which was when the ‘DWP overtime scam’ was first reported. With provisions that demand DWP workers get paid for the work other people do, at ratepayer expense, it’s no wonder so many are frustrated with the power of political unions in California.”

Fellner also noted that, even excluding OT pay, the average DWP employee already makes more than twice what their private-sector counterpart does.

The DWP did not provide benefits data on an individual employee level and, as such, are unrepresented amongst the top special districts with the highest average employee compensation packages.

LA Metro chief collects over half a million

LA Metro chief Richard Thorpe’s $514,980 compensation package was the highest of any special district worker in Los Angeles County.

The next four highest-compensated Los Angeles County special district workers were:

  1. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California general manager Jeffrey Kightlinger: $501,932
  2. Southern California Association of Governments executive director Hasan Ikhrata: $501,932
  3. Los Angeles County Sanitation District GM Grace Hyde: $431,447
  4. DWP electrical service manager Michael Mundo earned $424,866 just in wages, which excludes benefits.

The three Los Angeles County special districts with the highest average compensation packages for full-time, year-round employees were:

  1. Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD): $176,212
  2. West Basin Municipal Water District: $158,781
  3. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California: $157,817

Compensation is defined as total wages plus the employer cost of retirement and health benefits. Full-time, year-round employees are defined as those receiving a salary equal or greater to 90 percent of the “annual salary minimum” reported.

To explore the data further, please visit TransparentCalifornia.com

To schedule an interview with Transparent California, please contact Robert Fellner at 559-462-0122 or Robert@TransparentCalifornia.com.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

An easy solution to the teacher shortage

In today’s Washington Examiner I highlight the unfair burden public pension plans impose on today’s teachers and students.

A slice:

CCSD could boost teacher pay, at no extra cost, if lawmakers allowed it to modernize its retirement system — the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada (PERS).

While CCSD pays PERS directly, teachers pay their share through salary reductions.

Consequently, as PERS costs skyrocketed — up over 36 percent since 2007 — to today’s all-time highs, CCSD was unable to raise salaries as much as they, and teachers, would like.

What’s most frustrating about this rate hike, however, is that it provides no additional benefit to the current teacher paying it. Instead, almost all is spent on paying down PERS debt — a function of a system which was designed to transfer the cost for the previous generation onto present-day teachers and taxpayers.

In other words, current teachers are receiving lower wages to pay for PERS past funding failures.

Be sure to read the whole thing here.

Teachers’ Unions Profit at Students’ Expense

At RealClearPolicy.com, I argue that reforming California’s terrible tenure laws will require understanding what created it, not merely wishing legislators act against their own self-interest.

Because experts cite teacher quality as the most important factor in student-learning, even those who are normally supportive of government unions have criticized their inflexible opposition to reform — as was seen in recent editorials from both The Los Angeles Times and The Sacramento Bee.

But simply to ask legislators to oppose one of California’s most powerful special interest groups is to ignore the very forces that got us here in the first place.

Read the full piece here.

Government unions profiting at the expense of others: California’s teacher tenure rules

Here’s a letter to the editor I sent to the Sacramento Bee in response to Teacher tenure debate ends with too little noise, August 23.

California’s teacher tenure rules — so harmful to students’ well-being that it “shocks the conscience” according to a Superior Court judge — is a truly shameful example of how government unions profit at the expense of others.

These terrible laws are the result of the special-interest effect: lawmakers serve those who can provide the most support to them — government unions like the California Teachers Association — over the public interest.

The basis for government unions rests on shaky ground as it is: the original labor movement was created to prevent the exploitation of workers by profit-hungry corporations. Because the government has no profits over which to negotiate, the case for unionization remains dubious. In California, elected officials are actually forced to sign union contracts.

Political self-interest guarantees that lawmakers serve special-interest groups. Instead of wishing this wasn’t so, Californians should ask themselves which is more important: government unions or their children?

Edited version of the above ran in today’s paper.