If there's anything to be said about New York City, it's that it's way too expensive. We get it. Change the record. Whatever. That's not going to change anytime soon, and for the most part, we've all just embraced it as a fact of life.
Anything else to say about NYC? Yeah. The MTA sucks. Delays. "Track work." Second Avenue construction. Subway line closures. We could go on and on.
For all of the times we rail on the MTA, it's a little easy to forget that at the heart of it, there are real people working real jobs for very little gratitude. Yeah, it's a thankless job. Except when it comes to getting paid though.
According to the New York Daily News, the MTA paid out more than $876 million in overtime last year.
That number is insane, and it's up 11% from $792 million in 2014.
What does that number actually mean though? Well, more than 400 workers saw their extra pay surpass their actual salary, sometimes even exponentially.
Take the "OT King," Joseph Ruzzo, a Long Island Railroad track foreman. His salary? $101,204. His overtime? $231,923. Combined, he more than tripled his regular rate of pay.
As a whole, the MTA saw these increases with every transit agency in the fold with NYC Transit shelling out the most OT at $573 million-- a 7% increase from 2014.
Sure, it's rude to ask people about their money, which is probably why Ruzzo and other MTA employees who cashed in were tight-lipped about the situation. One worker, Ralph Golden (also a LIRR foreman), also nearly tripled his pay, and had little to offer the Daily News about it.
"It's great, but that's all your going to get," he told them.
Now, we're all about people making livable wages in a city where that simply isn't the case for the most part.
On the other hand, we, like Executive Director of the Empire Center Tim Hoefer, are a little curious as to how something like that amount of overtime even happens. Like, why? What's actually getting done? Other than a huge paycheck, what do you have to show for it?
“My initial thought is, 400 people earning more in overtime than in pay makes me question how they’re handling time management there,” Hoefer said.
We completely agree. Of course, 400 people isn't a huge number, and while the $876 million is a staggering amount, apparently there was more needed.
MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said Empire Center's analysis is overblown adding that there was an additional $32 million that wasn't even reimbursed, but was required. So did everybody make out like a bandit? No. Again, only 422 people made more than their base salary.
“We always seek to include overtime in our cost-cutting efforts, but overtime is an essential element of operating a round-the-clock transportation network that often faces unplanned emergencies,” Lisberg said.
That's a good point. The only thing about that though, is, well, with the widespread inconveniences the MTA passes along to commuters on a daily basis, at what point does the money spent matter? Is there a threshold dollar amount where we say, "This isn't worth it. Provide better service?"
No. That's an impossibility, and as extravagant as the amount paid might seem, the unpaid $32 million is a huge hole. The MTA's service and functionality is severely lacking, but it's good to know that people working a thankless job in a fundamentally lose-lose situation at least make good money.
Check out NYC Spent $40.9 Billion in 2015 on New Construction Projects.[via New York Daily News] [Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]