Hire Some More Freaking People

A reader sent me this list at of salaries at BART (via here).  The amazing thing is to sort the list by overtime.  Pages and pages of people with $50-$100 thousand a year in overtime.  This is just insane.  Either put these guys on salary or, if it really is a job that is non-exempt and legitimately pays hourly, hire some more freaking people.  I can't in my wildest dreams imagine such overtime being paid in my company year in and year out.  If it is not for isolated cases, it is a sign of poor management.

  • Danny

    Two incorrect assumptions:
    1) There is work to do which requires people work overtime
    2) That BART exists for providing transportation, and not as a mechanism for giving lavish salaries to people who don't deserve them.

  • METRO in Washington DC has the same problem, with bus drivers making 150K due to massive overtime and such. And of course, that's the one where there have been a bunch of recent fatal accidents...

    It goes without saying that I completely agree.

  • Jeff

    Wait till next year, then lookup how many of those names show up as retirees of BART. That much overtime smells of pension spiking.

    In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a gold rush of public employees all over California hurrying to spike their pension amounts and retire before the gravy train comes to a halt.

  • gn

    @Jeff - Absolutely. Our "public servants" are, in fact, the most-skilled system gamers of all time and see nothing wrong with any of their self-serving actions. Amazing.

  • I ran a query on that site and came up with 875 people pulling more than $10,000 in overtime. Amazing (and not in a good way).

  • Ignatius

    I think the issue of overtime is a requires more research than looking at a list. I'd like to state first that public transportation in the Bay Area (where I live) is horribly inefficient. I think it is safe to say that whenever you have one group of people required to subsidize another group of people that incentives for efficient operations are lost.
    For the past several years I have been assisting with the preparation of the yearly budget of a large public sector department. Because of the rapid growth of fringe benefits including retirement and health care filling needed shifts on overtime has become significantly cheaper than hiring new employees; benefits are mostly fixed per employee and are not changed by how much overtime the employee works. While this seems counter-intuitive I can assure you the math works out. Our work has concluded that as long as the shifts are needed and employees on overtime are productive it is significantly more efficient to have overtime.

    This is not to say that the public sector doesn't suffer from horrible incentives, out-of-line compensation packages and other deficiencies in delivering services. Just, overtime used correctly can be justified and demonizing certain employees who work it is unfair. BTW. I'm not sure about BART but in my department overtime is not pensionable.

  • Ignatius

    I think the issue of overtime is a requires more research than looking at a list. I'd like to state first that public transportation in the Bay Area (where I live) is horribly inefficient. I think it is safe to say that whenever you have one group of people required to subsidize another group of people that incentives for efficient operations are lost.
    For the past several years I have been assisting with the preparation of the yearly budget of a large public sector department. Because of the rapid growth of fringe benefits including retirement and health care filling needed shifts on overtime has become significantly cheaper than hiring new employees; benefits are mostly fixed per employee and are not changed by how much overtime the employee works. While this seems counter-intuitive I can assure you the math works out. Our work has concluded that as long as the shifts are needed and employees on overtime are productive it is significantly more efficient to have overtime.

    This is not to say that the public sector doesn't suffer from horrible incentives, out-of-line compensation packages and other deficiencies in delivering services. Just, overtime used correctly can be justified and demonizing certain employees who work it is unfair. BTW. I'm not sure about BART but in my department overtime is not pensionable.

  • morganovich

    if you think BART is bad, take a look at SF muni...

  • smurfy

    The other thing I found interesting is that they no longer have foreman positions. Foreworker? It's a bit awkward.
    "I can’t in my wildest dreams imagine such overtime being paid in my company year in and year out."
    I agree, and I'm in utilities. We've always got people on call and you have to respond to outages in the middle of the night. Outage work can only be contracted out in the very largest outages. These guys make a high hourly wage and without new construction, they're sitting on their hands most of the time. It make sense to keep the workforce small and use overtime to cover your highly-variable outage work. Even so, our guys see at best 40-50% of their base pay in OT. When you have people over 100%, you've definitely got management issues. But look at the list, senior this senior that, the managers themselves are the worst abusers.

  • I agree with smurfy that overtime can be an effective way to deal with highly variable scheduling concerns, but what could possibly be more scheduled than a train service? I'm being serious here. This has got to be one of the easiest scheduling / staffing management projects possible in a large organization that's not "9 to 5"

  • Stephen

    If your benefits have a value that is more than 50% of your base pay, then it is cheaper to pay you 1-1/2 times your base pay per hour than it is to hire someone else and pickup another full benefits package.

  • IgotBupkis

    > they no longer have foreman positions. Foreworker? It’s a bit awkward.

    Well, you do have a problem when you have up to *7* different common gender-orientations -- more if you include bestiality-orientations... LOL.

  • bryan

    Ignatius, I see your point regarding benefits, but just by looking at the list one thing stands out. The folks with the higher base pay appear to be the ones pulling in the most overtime. When your sr. and most expensive folks are doing the lion's share of the OT, it is clearly a reward, not a smart business decision.

  • While I understand the inclination to drop "...well, overtime is actually cheaper than deploying the full benefits package we'd otherwise have to," as an explanation (but I hope not an excuse) all this really translates to is "...well, overtime is actually cheaper than paying the simply obscene long-term agreements successively spineless city and state governments have cut year after year to cash in short-term political gains."

  • RobTzu

    My job is like that. It is Union. It is hard to fire people. So they are loathe to hire them. Unions make companies less nimble in that regard, amongst others.

  • Highway

    They also tend to do things like enact a 'hiring freeze'. This way they can move covering those hours off of one part of the budget into another. And a lot of the time, the 'hiring freeze' is done with the full support of the current workers and their union, because it guarantees them a bunch of overtime.

    And I'd bet that being agency workers, they play both sides of the street: First complaining about how overworked they are with all this overtime, then complaining when their overtime shifts might be cut because it's a loss of income that they're now used to.

  • ParatrooperJJ

    It is cheaper to pay overtime then to hire a new employee. Keep in mind that once they hire someone that employee will never be fired.

  • markm

    Ignatius:
    "Because of the rapid growth of fringe benefits including retirement and health care filling needed shifts on overtime has become significantly cheaper than hiring new employees; benefits are mostly fixed per employee and are not changed by how much overtime the employee works."

    But that savings will disappear fast when you have to start paying for mistakes made by people after a week of double shifts. Especially older people, and judging by the base salaries, the ones doing the most overtime are probably just about to retire. I strongly suspect that BART pensions do depend on the last year's pay, *including overtime*, so they aren't saving that much either - although the pension inflation may come out of someone else's budget until the public pension fund has to come back on the taxpayers to cover shortages.