One of the many charges leveled against the MTA concerns the amount of money those at the top get paid. It’s outrageous that former CEO and Executive Director earned $290,000 in 2008, right? It’s crazy that upper level management should get fairly compensated! Let’s cut their salaries before raising the fares.
Frankly, that’s an illogical line of reasoning. Sander in 2008 oversaw an agency that consisted of 78,393 paid employees. His successor will oversee one that features nearly as many, and a CEO working in the private sector would receive well more than ten times what Sander’s take-home pay amounted to last year. Sander and the agency presidents each making $200,000 a year or more aren’t overpaid.
That isn’t to say that all is A-OK with regards to the MTA’s payroll. Now that the Empire Center for New York State Policy, an off-shoot of the Manhattan Institute, has publicized salary information for all MTA employees, we can better understand what the MTA’s labor costs and challenges are.
The information for the MTA is available here as a searchable database. It includes, per the See Through NY Web site, “names, positions, wage and salary rates, and total pay (including overtime and other extras) of every individual who worked for the MTA during the 2008 calendar year.” While searching through it can be more than a little overwhelming, the Empire Center has put out a press release with some top-line information:
More than 10 percent of the MTA’s workforce–8,214 individuals in all–took home $100,000 or more in total pay, including overtime. The MTA’s six-figure club included:
- 10 employees who earned more than $250,000, averaging $102,000 over their base salaries;
- 44 employees who earned between $200,000 and $250,000, averaging $89,000 over their base salaries;
- 600 employees who earned between $150,000 and $200,000; and
- 7,560 individuals who earned between $100,000 and $150,000.
Eleven of the 654 employees who earned more than $150,000 in 2008 were Long Island Railroad car repairmen who earned an average of $206,000—which was $143,000 over their average base pay rate of $63,000. Other popular titles in the $150,000-and-over category included:
- 62 Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Railroad conductors who averaged $83,000 over their base salaries which averaged only $82,000;
- 40 police officers averaging $79,000 over their average base pay of $90,000;
- 39 gang foremen averaging $87,000 over their average base pay of $79,300; and
- 30 Long Island Railroad engineers averaging $103,000 over their average base pay of $73,000.
It seems as though the MTA could save on labor costs simply by hiring more workers and eliminating overtime. How many hours must these workers be putting in to nearly double their salaries? That is a prime example of poor upper management and oversight.
In the end, the MTA’s fiercest critiques will decry this information as yet another sign that MTA workers are overpaid. That isn’t really true. This people are paid at levels that are fairly compensatory. The problem is that there are just too many of them. The MTA needs to cut internally, but a true slicing and dicing of the authority’s payrolls would require a complete reorganization of the seven-agency beast that is the MTA. I just don’t know, though, who has the clout to fight the unions and Albany. It would be quite the uphill battle.