King 5 News reporter Sussanah Frame reported on UpFront today that while we are laying off teachers and cutting basic healthcare for children because of state budget cuts, some ferry workers have been earning triple time pay – up to $140/hour. It makes no sense. One has to ask where’s the oversight and cost controls? I thought all state agencies were taking budget cuts to deal with decreased revenue. It seems someone forget to tell the Washington State Ferry System.
“The KING 5 Investigators have found many of those staff chief engineers are boosting their pay year after year through massive amounts of overtime. Public records obtained by KING 5 show some of the money is earned in triple time: $140 an hour – while their boats are out-of-service for repairs and maintenance.
KING 5 found 12 of the 21 staff chief engineers have collected that costly triple time in the last three years.
How’d that happen? They were called in off their vacations to go to the maintenance yard with their boats to make sure everything goes by the book.
But there’s nothing in a union contract saying the staff chief engineer has to scrap vacation plans and come in on triple pay because of repairs or maintenance work. That’s just the way it’s always been done at the Washington State Ferries. Management has chosen this option despite the fact that each boat has a well-qualified alternate staff chief who could do the work for straight time.”
It’s time for Governor Gregoire and Washington State Ferries Director David Moseley to end this absurd siuation. And it’s not just triple time that’s the issue. When people are losing their jobs and taking unpaid leave days, it is a public relations nightmare to try and justify such gross overtime pay period. And we’re not talking peanuts. The top engineer on one ferry boat the Wenatchee had a base salary of $90,000 in 2008 but collected over $190,000, mostly as a result of overtime.