Public Employee Overtime is Exploding in California. Here’s Why.
Cities and counties across the state spent nearly $4 billion in overtime last year, which is more than double what they paid in 2011. And nearly 3,000 workers earned $100,000 or more in overtime in 2018 compared to 171 in 2011 — an increase of 1,564%.
The stunning figures come from an analysis of public pay data conducted by Southern California News Group.
In the most egregious example, an L.A. Department of Water and Power employee took home more than 12 times his regular salary in overtime pay alone. In another case, a San Bernardino County probation corrections officer with a base salary of $49,845 earned $108,181 in overtime.
The majority of high overtime earners (65%) work for fire departments. Another 20% are police. The analysis found that 220 city and county workers earned more than $500,000 in total compensation last year.
Rising pension costs, especially in the public safety sector, account for the massive increase in overtime allotment, officials say. The more hours municipalities can squeeze out of existing employees, the less new people they have to hire — and the fewer pensions they have to pay.
But that strategy isn’t just resulting in exorbitant overtime pay; some fear it’s creating a dangerous situation whereby public safety workers are simply spending too many hours on the job.
Read more at the Orange County Register.