Monday, December 28, 2009

Should have been a Muni employee


Yes, I know, lately I have been on an anti-MUNI kick but lets take a look at some things. Today, it was revealed that MUNI employees, as long as they work 2,080 hours in the year receive a bonus of $3,000.00. Based on the number of employees that earn this (about 65%), that works out $18 million.

This bonus, it must be noted, is not based on anything other than the number of total hours which an employee clocked in the year. No requirement that the hours be good. No requirement that something have been achieved during those hours. Its simple, work 2,080 hours, you get a bonus.

You know how many hours you work in a year if you work 50 weeks? That would be 2000. And how many vacation hours do they get? 2 weeks? That would be 80 hours.

By the way, last year MUNI operated at a $70 million deficit. With a little simple math, that means that the bonus system has caused at least 25% of the MUNI budget deficit.

And yet, I don't see anyone at the top of MUNI losing their job for creating a $ 70 million deficit. Nor do I see any hours being cut back for the workers. The only people I see being asked to sacrifice are the users of the system who see their fares go up and their service go down.

Next up, let's look at what MUNI employees make. The entry level, according to the article is: $29.19 per hour. In the course of a standard 50 week work year, assuming that they do 8 hours and no overtime: $58,380.00. Throw in vacation pay, because unlike many workers nowadays, they still get vacation pay, and that's more than $60,000.00 per year, plus an additional $225 per month for their benefits.

As a point of reference, many law firms in this area start their first year attorneys at small/medium-sized firms start somewhere between $57,000.00 and 90,000.00. Add in student loans from seven years of school, and it would have been better to skip education and get a job driving a bus, where standards seem to only be enforced when a rider finally catches you on their cell phone camera acting badly.

How any agency or business can pay bonuses when they are losing money is beyond me. It should be illegal for a municipal, state, or federal agency to issue bonuses when the agency itself is over budget. If a private business did it, they should be (not the employees) taxed prohibitively.

Enough of this rewarding people for just showing up. Showing up is not enough.


Greg said...

You raise an important point, one that many of us who are worried about the Muni (which we are owners of , not customers of) in these tough times.

True, much of Muni's woes come from the illegal looting of gas tax money by the State of California (which the courts ruled illegal, but that means nada). Still, to continue to ensure high high pay without asking for the bare minimum of standards (absenteeism kills schedules and creates OT headaches galore) is a bit much.

However, it's also important to remember that while the drivers are the front line employees we see the most, it is the executive management class who is sucking the public dry too, also without any tie to performance. When asked why trains are running so slow in the West Portal tunnel, 300,000/year + bonuses Muni boss Nathaniel Ford couldn't say why, or why he can't seem to fix it. I'd say he's a bit overpaid, or a bit underqualified, if we can't even run trains as fast as they did in 1952.

AngryBell said...

Really, I'm tired of excusing the front line people. They are just as much at fault as the appointees at the top and middle level people who don't give damn enough to make the system work in spite of the appointees.

I'm getting to the point now where everyone goes on performance based pay. You get a low base. You make your stops on time every day, you get a bonus. You make sure that the schedules are done in advance and executed, you get a bonus.

It is just wrong that we have people making the highest salary of anyone else in their class in the country (not the state), that we can't have people show some attention to detail. Also, the executives and appointees don't get their salary unless their department meets quantifiable standards. If they fail more than 3 quarters in a year consecutively, they are out or demoted.

With the economy the way it is, I am sure there a number of qualified people out there who would love to drive a bus. Next driver who gets into accident, automatic firing if he is more than 49 percent at fault.