The newest members of the New York City millionaire class aren’t television stars, coaches, quarterbacks, tech entrepreneurs, or even Wall Street financiers. The newest millionaires are blue-collar city employees such as mechanics, plumbers, welders, engineers, oilers, prison and fire captains, tractor operators, and more.
Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com analyzed city payroll data for fiscal year 2017, and found 83,400 employees bringing home $100,000 incomes. That’s a 10-percent increase from fiscal year 2016.
Despite his promise
to reform to pay and perquisites, Mayor Bill De Blasio showered the city workforce with billions of dollars in overtime and extra pay. Last year alone, this amounted to $3.2 billion.
Compensation in NYC is more than huge salaries. Last year, 162,000 city workers reaped $2 billion on 34 million hours of overtime. In addition, the city doled out $1.2 billion in extra pay, a category of compensation that includes bonuses, lump sums, allowances, retroactive pay increases, settlement amounts, differentials, and more. Read the mayor's office's comment on city overtime, click here
It’s a citywide problem. We found carpenters nailing down $192,711; plasterers amassing $184,521; and city painters canvasing $168,804. A thermostat repairer can heat his bank account with $213,904.
The De Blasio administration is minting millionaires. City employees routinely earned $1 million in wages every four to six years. This is a serious trend at the Department of Corrections, an agency employing 66 of the 100 highest overtime earners across the city last year. Consider these examples:
- Fintan O’Donogue, a building operation engineer, took home $1.1 million over the last four years. In 2017, he made $344,771 including $191,488 in overtime pay.
- Dermot Corcoran, a supervisor of mechanics, nabbed $1.06 million in cash compensation over the last four years. Last year, he earned $324,127 including $187,436 in overtime pay.
- Alfonse Carillo, an oiler (read description), received $1.14 million over the most recent five-year period. Last year, he earned $315,603 including $160,738 in overtime and another $31,503 in extra pay.
Read a response from the Department of Corrections, click here
This pipeline of cash compensation in the NYC prison system allowed blue-collar workers in regular positions to become millionaires rather quickly.
For example, Richard Papa, a tractor operator, earned more than $1 million over the past six years. Last year, he earned $274,596 driving payloaders, graders, and removing snow. Papa was paid $144 per hour on 886 hours of overtime. Similarly, Bertram Ransome, a welder, made his million over the last six years. He earned $294,375 last year, making $106 per hour of overtime.
Plumbers are in on the action too.
Lawrence Ciaffone, a plumber, made nearly $1 million over the past five years. Last year, he made $263,604 and received $108 per hour of overtime. The plumbing bosses at Citywide Administration Services did even better. Joseph Jenson is a supervisor of plumbers and made $1.03 million over the past four years. Jenson’s base pay is $102,324 per year, but largely thanks to overtime, he doubled and tripled his income to $348,206 in 2016 and $258,681 in 2017.
The city’s pay and overtime systems are so broken that some employees worked 100-hour weeks for the entire year. That means these employees worked 13 hours every day for 365 days, including holidays and weekends without taking a single day off for vacation or sick leave.
Here are the three hardest working city employees according to overtime records:
- Daniel Cherenfant, a community associate at the Department of Buildings, worked 2,736 hours of overtime last year on top of 2,000 hours of regular work. This means Cherenfant worked the equivalent of 13 hour days every day of the year.
- Mohammed Uddin, a motor vehicle operator at Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), worked 2,459 hours of overtime – the equivalent of 12.2 hours each day of the year when added to regular hours.
- Tyrone Watkins, a custodian at ACS, cleaned off 2,420 hours of overtime – the equivalent of 12.1 hours each day of the year when added to regular hours.
These examples give new meaning to New York City’s nickname as "the city that never sleeps."
The New York Police Department (NYPD) employees worked nearly 12 million overtime hours, receiving $767 million in overtime pay. Nearly 2,500 NYPD employees pocketed $40,000 in overtime pay last year.
Many of the top overtime earners at the Police Department were not police officers or detectives. Thomas Smith, a sheet metal worker, pulled down $100,846 in overtime pay – more than he made in regular pay. Roderick Crawford, a welder, made $97,881 in overtime pay on top of his $158,807 regular pay. Ralph Regina, a supervisor sheet metal worker in Queens, worked 652.5 overtime hours for $114,559. That means he made $175 per extra hour!
Employees at the New York Fire Department worked 5.5 million hours of overtime, receiving $346 million in overtime pay. Last year, 17 fire department employees out-earned Fire Chief James Leonard’s $222,021 salary. One of those employees was John Clifford, a fire captain, who received $256,893 – doubling his base salary with more than $108,000 in overtime and $23,000 in extra pay.
Again, some of the most highly compensated aren’t firefighters, but employees in supporting positions. For example, Andy Diamond, a mechanics supervisor, earned $1.1 million during the past five years including $266,990 last year.
Undoubtedly, many of these employees work hard. Still, NYC’s payment patterns raise troubling questions about the city’s management. Some employees seem to be overworked while others may be overpaid.
Maybe it’s time that the MET started inviting the NYC public employee millionaires to join the movie stars and other industry titans to attend its annual red-carpet fundraising gala?
If we are going to pay them like millionaires, then perhaps the social elites will fete them as well.