The MTA might not be the first place one would think of to fetch a six figure salary, but thanks to overtime pay and an old union rule, at least 20 employees did so last year, according to the New York Post.
One such employee, a train car repair man named Vincent Blackburn, earned $135,684.53 in overtime last year -- on top of his base salary of $66,539.12. Between the overtime, the salary and bonuses, Blackburn reportedly took home $202,323.65 in 2011, which is more money than the MTA's Chief Operating Officer made in the same year. According to the Post, he earned only $197,532.25 last year.
According to the paper, these high salaries can in part be explained by an old union rule at one of the Long Island Rail Road's repair sites in Queens. The provision, known as Rule 24, says that the railroad has to keep empty shifts filled, even if the work isn't needed.
In response to the findings, MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan told MSNBC that while the information in the story was indeed accurate, overtime pay is declining.
"Over time, expenses have gone down," Donovan told MSNBC. "This was a focus on the top 10 [earners]. Certainly people do earn overtime, but the overall aggregate figure is down."
Donovan also said that Rule 24 is something that the MTA plans to address.
The MTA's overtime has been subject to criticism and suspicion for some time now. Back in 2010, Reuters reported that the New York state comptroller would conduct an audit of the MTA that would look into the $560 million that had been put towards overtime. Among the results of the audit, some of which were released in November, was the revelation that abuses of overtime had padded employee pensions by $1 million.
These latest reports about employee overtime come on the heels of fare hikes that were announced in March. It's expected subway fares will go up to $2.50 per ride.
Even back then, the news didn't go over well, so it's likely the fact that 20 employees made over $100,000 in overtime pay won't either.
As Gothamist put back it in March, "What's cripplingly depressing about these increases is that they won't go towards making the stations better or the buses run faster, but straight into the ballooning maw of agency pensions and health care plans."