March 28, 2013

Government Employee Overtime About Equal to a 38 Studios Every Year

Justin Katz

The State of Rhode Island spent $89.6 million on employee overtime in 2011, according to payroll data acquired by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. The free-market think tank will make the individual payroll data for fiscal years 2011 and 2010 available next week through an interactive transparency Web site.

The average overtime payments of the 9,415 employees receiving at least some overtime in 2011 was $9,516, but removing those who claim relatively small amounts reveals some startling totals.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Next, please look at the political connections of these people.

Posted by: Mike at March 28, 2013 8:19 AM

Last year, I was harangued and called elitist by an Anchor Rising contributor and commenters for suggesting that it might not be in the interest of a positive relationship between government and the governed for firefighters with high-school educations to be compensated commensurate with doctors and corporate attorneys. Apparently that wasn't any kind of a principled stand because nobody seems to have any issue with questioning the six-figure salaries of state hospital attendants and correctional workers. The elitism must be contagious, or firefighters are just "off limits."

Posted by: Dan at March 28, 2013 8:29 AM


Actually, you called yourself an elitist in the particular thread you are discussing, when you couldn't otherwise explain why salaries of corporate lawyers should be the reference for all other compensation. According to the "principled stand" you are suggesting, if the people doubling six-figure salaries via overtime in a government department (like at Eleanor Slater) were lawyers instead of nurses, the analysis would be different. But the problem being highlighted here is not that some employees of state government are making more than lawyers, and saying that all wages and salaries should be normed to those of lawyers adds an unnecessary and not very useful layer of analysis to the problem.

More to the point, in the past, I have been sympathetic to the possibility that the unpredictability of certain public safety jobs could lead to a certain amount of overtime. However, trying to apply this line of reasoning to laundry workers (I'm unaware of emergencies that arise in laundry) makes it clear that Rhode Island government hasn't exactly been "cut to the bone" in its basic personnel management, and if it can't handle the basic stuff correctly, it's probably botching more complex situations even worse.

Posted by: Andrew at March 28, 2013 10:47 AM

Andrew - This is for the nth time a false restatement of my argument. As was repeatedly explained, I never suggested that the "salaries of corporate lawyers should be the reference for all other compensation" or made anything resembling that argument. No matter how many times you characterize my argument that way, it doesn't make the characterization accurate. If I was in fact making that point, why would I deny it so vigorously? Perhaps you should let people speak for themselves.

I did make the very straightforward point that since public compensation isn't subject to market forces, it is often appropriate to use benchmarks in the private sector for comparison. For salaries in the $100k-250k range, yes, corporate attorney compensation is one such appropriate benchmark. You can use another benchmark if that one bothers you.

I called myself "elitist" in sarcasm after a lengthy discussion that was going in circles.

Posted by: Dan at March 28, 2013 11:07 AM


I don't think it's controversial to say that, as a practical matter, there is a comparative element to analyzing compensation, but if comparing salaries to those of lawyers is not central to your argument, you should stop immediately following statements that this is not what you're doing with salary comparisons to those of lawyers. I don't know how to make this any clearer.

You don't need to look at lawyer salaries to see that $120,000 per year for laundry work is out of whack, beginning with the fact that it would seem to require a full year of 100 hour work weeks.

Posted by: Andrew at March 28, 2013 12:24 PM

Andrew - I agree with you. However, when I make what is essentially the same argument about firefighter compensation levels that (I feel) are blatantly inappropriate (over $100k from 50-60k base salary), there are howls of outrage and the Conestoga wagons circle in defense of "the heroes." The firefighters themselves typically respond with their own assertion that the compensation is reasonable. I don't know how to prove that it is not without using other jobs and compensation levels as benchmarks. If the corporate attorney and doctor benchmarks I like to use are offensive to some, then I welcome any other applicable compensation benchmarks to the discussion.

Posted by: Dan at March 28, 2013 1:16 PM

100K babysitters.
120K for doing laundry-now that's what I call cleaning up!
And yes RI firemen are the biggest, most overpaid, underworked and overstaffed crybabies humans on the planet.
With prison guards just a nose behind in every category.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at March 28, 2013 1:22 PM

"there are howls of outrage and the Conestoga wagons circle in defense of "the heroes."

As I understand the listings I have seen, police and fire come in at 15th and 16th most dangeropus jobs in AMerica. Lumberjacks and ironworkers consistently appear as Nos. 1 and 2.

The term "corporate" lawyer is rarely used anymore, it has been supplanted by "business".

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 28, 2013 1:40 PM

Not sure about that, Warrington. I was very actively in the legal job market a few years ago, and it was "corporate attorney" all the way. "Large firm attorney" is considered deragatory by some.

Job dangerousness is one relevant factor in setting public sector compensation. However, there are many other factors, such as qualifications required and the size of the applicant pool.

Posted by: Dan at March 28, 2013 2:10 PM

Dan: "I was very actively in the legal job market a few years ago, and it was "corporate attorney" all the way."

You could be right Dan, legal fashions change to keep up with the times. I note that "copyright" law has become "Intellectual Property". I haven't socialized much with big firm attorneys since the late 90's. Their firms all had a "transactional practice", meaning few regular clients. They were always jockeying for position with banks to be appointed "lender's counsel", or to be accepted by the banks as "borrower's counsel". They really sought to be lead on IPO.

When asked if they were "Corporate attorneys" they would respond with "we prefer to say business". Never knew any who were actually employed by corporations (until they failed to make partner), that may be different.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 29, 2013 11:41 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.