Unraveling the mystery behind one California city employee’s $313,865 in overtime pay

So how, exactly, does a security officer earn overtime worth $313,865 in a single year?

The Southern California News Group received a swarm of demands for an explanation after it published an analysis July 7 showing city and county governments spent twice as much on overtime in 2018 as they did in 2011.

Figures showed 306 workers at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power earned more than $100,000 in overtime last year — in addition to their regular pay — but LADWP officials could not immediately provide details or explanations. It is helping unravel the mystery now.

LADWP principal security officer Ricardo Frias earned that $313,865 in overtime — more than any other city or county worker in California — by clocking 3,764 hours of OT in 2018, said LADWP spokeswoman Dawn Cotterell.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, from left, attend a panel discussion on the House Democrats’ economic agenda for women and families: When Women Succeed, America Succeeds at the African American Arts & Cultural Complex in San Francisco, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. The House Democrats discussed the challenges facing women in the Bay Area and across the country and how this agenda will address those challenges. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

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“Based on the work rules in effect when he worked, he was compensated at double time for most of the shifts he worked because DWP was understaffed and he regularly worked long or double shifts,” Cotterell said in an email.

This averages out to more than 70 hours of overtime per week. At $83.38 per hour. Every week of the year.

California cities and total of workers who earned more than $100,000 in overtime in 2018. Where cities are grouped together, each city had that number of $100K overtime earners. SOURCE: California State Controller. Long days

Overtime, explained LADWP spokeswoman Ellen Cheng, is not based on having first worked a 40-hour week. It’s based on working extra time beyond a normal shift, and normal shifts can vary, she said.

At LADWP, an independent city agency funded by ratepayers, some labor agreements specify that if more than one hour of overtime is worked immediately preceding a normal work shift, the entire normal shift must be paid at double-time.

Thus, Frias is not the only DWP security employee to earn enormous overtime. Another security officer earned $229,117 in overtime. Another earned $221,620. Yet another earned $196,244.

Contracts designed to ‘enrich workers’

But the numbers have outraged many.

“The security officers at DWP have flashlights and walk around the premises. This isn’t law enforcement or anything even approaching that. Why are they paying one guy $313,000?,” asked Robert Fellner, executive director at Transparent California, a nonprofit that publishes public pay data and does its own analyses.

“The answer is explicit in the contracts — they’re written to enrich the workers as much as possible,” he said.

The median wage for security officers in America — defined as the wage at which half the workers earned more and half …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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