Most government jobs aren’t glamorous.You don’t usually get to jet around the world if you’re working for, say, the Division of Zoning. But government jobs have at least been considered secure—and as offering great benefits.
A report released earlier this year by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revealed that the “majority of public employees“—regardless of education—earn more than those in the private sector. When you factor in benefits like health insurance and pensions, it comes to a 16 per cent difference (via DailyFinance).
The report marks the first of its kind for the CBO, but the comparable trend between the private and public sector wage differential has been growing since 2001. According to the Bureau of labour Statistics, the average income in the private sector has grown $11,658 over that time to last year’s total of $47,815.
But for the public sector, the growth is more than double that, with the figure having risen $25,343 to last year’s average salary of $75,296 for all government workers, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Of course, at the same time, many of the prized public sector benefits are being chipped away—and layoffs have been imposed by cash-strapped state governments, too. But still, while a large number of government workers are motivated primarily by serving the public, and might actually earn less than they could in the private sector, there are others—from plumbers to executives—who have wound up with surprisingly high-paying gigs.
Some may have possibly used illegal means (and are awaiting trial). What do they all have in common? Their pay was footed by taxpayers, like you and me.
Should he be convicted on the corruption charges brought against him, Robert Rizzo (pictured above) could go down as the king of swindling public sector employees.
Back in 2010, the Los Angeles Times reported that Rizzo, the city administrator of Bell, Calif., was the ringleader of a band of eight employees of the Los Angeles county-city creating unusually large salaries for themselves. Rizzo himself allegedly received a payday that reached as high as $1.5 million a year, according to the Times. And that was for a work cycle that included 107 vacation and 36 sick days a year.
The investigation led to the dismissal of all eight of the employees. They reportedly stole the money by creating 'official looking documents' which they then delivered to city residents to alert them of fines they owed for fake housing violations. The Bell eight are waiting their final day in court.
The story of highly paid school janitors in New York City has been a recurring topic in Gotham tabloids. 'They're mopping up--and cleaning us out,' was how the New York Post put it back in 2010 when it reported on janitors making upwards of $140,000 a year.
How do they do it? For starters, some have through their union been able to negotiate favourable contracts that allow the janitors to collect two salaries for one job. Or they've been able to simply lie on their way to the big paychecks, as Trifon Radef is accused of doing between 2007 and 2010. In addition to his full-time job at Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus, Radef was on the books for being a night custodian at Harry S. Truman High School.
In total, Radef is accused of stealing $500,000 from the city school system. After being fingered in a city investigation, he is awaiting trial under the False Claims Act.
There are many jobs that inspire such devotion that workers are pleased to put in as much time as possible.
You would think the thankless task of sewage cleaning wouldn't be one of them. But according to the New York Post, Christopher Carlson worked last year at a rate of more than 80 hours every week, which means he logged 2,109 hours of overtime in addition to his 2,091 hours of regular time. This means he earned $197,119 on a base salary of $81,662. Not bad for the man who was the only city employee to work more than 2,000 hours of overtime last year.
Why is such a dogged schedule necessary? His workplace, the Owls Head Wastewater Treatment Plant in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn seems to be short-staffed. The facility, which requires coverage by a senior sewage worker 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has a staff of just three people.
Working as a lifeguard offers an appealing combination--it's extremely important work where you can save lives, while also getting a tan while you're punching the clock. But lucrative?
In one California city located in Orange County, Newport Beach, the city's full-time lifeguards earned six figures, thanks to a combination of base pay, overtime and benefits. Two battalion chiefs on the crew even make more than $200,000 a year, according to a report last year by the Orange County Register. This all while the city struggles with its pension debt, which is the highest in all of Orange County, according to the Daily Pilot, a local newspaper.
Nevertheless, the salaries are defended by local authorities, including Brent Jacobsen, president of the Lifeguard Management Association, who told the Register he believes the salaries are 'very fair and very reasonable with comparable positions and other cities up and down the coast.'
C. Kern Wildenthal put in 22 years as president of UT Southwestern Medical centre, and when he retired in 2007, he cited benign reasons, saying it was the 'perfect time for me to turn the reins over to a new leader,' according to the university.
His official new title was as 'assistant to the president for community affairs,' but the dream didn't last forever. After an investigation into Kern's travel expenses, Wildenthal's salary was reduced earlier this year. But don't shed tears for him: It's now $490,000 per year, according to the Dallas Morning News.
California has been battling an epic budget crisis for years, but for a three-year period it paid one of its prison surgeons a total of nearly a million dollars.
That hefty pay was in spite of his having been fired once for alleged incompetence and inability to treat inmates from 2005 to 2011, according to ABC News. Instead, over that time Jeffrey Rohlfing has been reviewing paper medical records, or been on 'mailroom' duty in the words of prison doctors, while he collects his salary.
Initially, the state wanted to hold back Rohlfing's salary in light of his competency problems. But after he appealed that decision, and won in state courts, California was ordered to pay up. 'We want taxpayers to know we had no choice in this,' Nancy Kincaid, spokeswoman for California's inmate healthcare told the Los Angeles Times.
Being a plumber can be tough work, but for William Naddeo and his fellow staff plumbers for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the payday was pretty grand.
The plumbers have a base pay of $86,000. But in Naddeo's case, the final salary went upwards of $190,000 for both of the last two years thanks to overtime, according to reporting by the New York Daily News.
And by all appearances, Naddeo and his fellow plumbers are coming by their overtime honestly. According to Ray Rondino of Plumbers Local 1, 'There are not enough plumbers to handle the work. . . . So the overload has to go into the night.'Indeed, the authority is currently responsible for maintaining 178,000 apartments with just 180 plumbers.
But in spite of their heavy workload, it appears the plumbers aren't working in the most efficient of workplaces. Apparently, there's no system for tracking what equipment is where in NYCHA's 5,200 storerooms. And so as a result, the plumbers, along with the other NYCHA staffers like carpenters and plasterers, spend 120,000 hours a year just searching for the parts they need, according to the Daily News.
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