New-York News

700-plus MTA workers made more than $100K in overtime pay last year


A whopping 724 Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers raked in more than $100,000 in overtime pay last year, contributing to a $663 million, or 9%, jump in the MTA’s payroll — the highest-ever level, according to a new report from Albany think tank Empire Center.

Government watchdogs warn that the troubling figures raise questions about staffing strategies at the state-run agency.

“It’s always a worrying trend when you see it increasing — it shows the MTA staffing levels may be out of balance, and having more workers in some areas could be more important if there are staff shortages,” Rachel Fauss, senior policy advisor for Reinvent Albany, told Crain’s Thursday. “It’s expensive and raises a lot of questions.”

For the second year in a row, in 2023, Metro-North Railroad supervisor Harry Dobson pulled in the highest amount of overtime of any MTA employee. He collected $254,638 for working the extra hours — almost $25,000 more than he collected in 2022 — on top of his annual salary of $117,183, growing his overall take-home pay to $381,255.

Dobson was one of 13 MTA employees last year who were cut checks for more than $200,000 in overtime, including five at the Long Island Rail Road, three at both Metro-North and MTA Police, and one each at the NYC Transit Authority and MTA Bridges and Tunnels, according to the analysis, which was released on Wednesday.

The hefty paychecks follow a similar trend from the previous year. In 2022, 566 employees brought in at least $100,000 in overtime pay, up from 320 in 2021. Another eight workers collected $200,000 in overtime in 2022, rising from four in 2021, Crain’s reported last year. 

LIRR employees took home the highest per-worker amount in overtime last year, with an average of $26,028. Bridges and Tunnels ranked second with an average of $25,839 and MTA Police with an average of $21,221 in overtime — helping bring the total to $1.37 billion last year, or up 6% from 2022, the analysis reveals.

“There are concerns around certain employees more than others — it’s the police who are particularly expensive,” said Fauss.

The MTA’s overall budget in real dollars, however, is down compared to prior years — even when taking into account labor agreements that have included wage hikes, according to Joana Flores, a spokeswoman for the MTA.

Flores also pointed to the fact that a large chunk of the record increases came from retroactive pay. Police officers, detectives, sergeants and lieutenants at the MTA Police Department, who are represented by the Police Benevolent Association, worked under a contract that expired in 2018 and was settled in 2022, meaning covered employees took home four years’ worth of retroactive pay in 2023.

Also worth noting, Flores said, is the MTA’s improved service. 

“The MTA is providing a ton more service with record on-time performance, and overtime, which is authorized in accordance with collective bargaining agreements, is a strategic tool used to keep trains running and the system safe,” said Flores. “That strategy has paid off — crime is down and on-time performance has surged, with schedules that include a substantially higher number of trains.”

Mayor Eric Adams in February again flooded the subway with more cops after an uptick in crime the month before. Relying on overtime spending, Adams assigned an additional 1,000 officers to the underground system, Crain’s reported at the time. Gov. Kathy Hochul also recently decided to send hundreds of the National Guard into the city’s subway to check bags for weapons — a move that proved to be particularly unpopular for raising concerns among would-be tourists that New York is unsafe.


Julianne Cuba , 2024-05-10 11:48:07

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