New York City streets unplowed, but at least sanitation workers retire well

A newborn baby died after waiting nine hours for care, a Brooklyn woman had to wait 30 hours before getting an ambulance, and one person even had to spend an overnight with a deceased relative, according to the New York Daily News. And how do well-paid public employees respond to the complaints? By being annoyed.

A spokesman for the union representing employees of the New York City's Department of Sanitation said that snow clean-up workers are “getting annoyed over the fact that people are thinking there is a job action.” But taxpayers are likely to be more annoyed when they find out how well the workers do financially, even in retirement.

According to the Manhattan Institute's “See Through New York” database of 2009 pensions, nearly 180 retired employees make over $66,000 year — in other words, over and above the maximum salary of currently working employees. In fact, 20 retirees make upwards of $90,000 in retirement, up to $132,360.

Couple this with how notoriously difficult it is to fire a public employee, and you'll see why a public employee crashing a snow plow into a car doesn't rattle city officials.

Just to be clear, the top salary of $66,672 is only the tip of the iceberg for active sanitation worker compensation because it excludes other things like overtime and extra pay for certain assignments. For example, one worker in 2009 had a salary of $55,639 but actually earned $79,937 for the year.

And all retirees, no matter the length of time they've served, get full health care coverage for themselves and their families as well, through the New York City Health Benefits Program — where they get to enjoy such benefits as prescription drug coverage , dental, and eye care, without having to pay a nickle on premiums.

It almost makes you wonder how the Department of Sanitation could name its annual report, “Doing more with less.”

Compare these benefits to that of the private sector: Only 28 percent of firms with more than 200 employees, and 3 percent of smaller firms, offered health benefits to any retirees as of 2010.

According to an October report from the Empire Center for New York State Policy, New York City has nearly $63 billion in unfunded liabilities for government retiree health benefits — effectively shoveling $7,343 per city resident into public workers' pockets.

Maybe they should quit being annoyed with residents and just plow the snow already.

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