A perceived pattern of excessive overtime pay to BART employees has a least one state senator asking questions, and has forced officials within the transit agency to launch an internal probe into the matter. So reports CBS 5, which notes that a diverse group of employees ranging from BART police to mechanics made almost triple their salaries in overtime pay last year alone.
Salary and compensation figures obtained by the channel, for example, show a system service worker who earns a salary of $57,900 rack up $162,000 in overtime. And this is not an isolated incident, with other examples given including a $77,000 salaried repairman making $139,000 in overtime, and $96,000 salaried BART police officer earning $170,000 in overtime pay.
That this all comes at a time when BART has both struggled to maintain basic service and is lobbying for the passage of a $3 billion bond measure has State Senator Steve Glazer seeing all kinds of red. “The list is so broad as to raise not so much impropriety by one or two, but a system that is really broken down in their ability to manage their affairs properly,” he told the channel. “BART wants to make this all about maintenance and security, but that is not what you see when you examine this [overtime] list."
Indeed, BART spokesperson Alicia Trost argued that they are having trouble recruiting new hires, and that this overtime is what it costs the agency to maintain an acceptable level of service. “Well really what this is, is our system is an aging system,” she noted. “When we shut down the tracks last year with the Transbay Tube all those workers are getting paid overtime working 16 hour days so we can rebuild our system and have the least amount of impact to our riders.”
This, of course, is not really a new problem. KRON4 reported back in 2013 that some BART employees were receiving huge overtime payouts, with at least one earning $100,000 above his base salary. Apparently not a whole lot has changed since then.
As to why BART can't hire more employees, thus reducing the agency's reliance on overtime, Trost believes that people just don't want to do the work. “We are actually having a hard time recruiting," said Trost. "The conditions aren’t very glamorous, working 24 hours a day on our stinky old escalators. We don’t have a lot of people champing at the bits for that.”
Once news gets out about the liberal use of OT, however, that may begin to change.