LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A trio of Los Angeles city firefighters have earned the dubious distinction as the top public employee overtime earners in California, thanks to a generous overtime policy.
Transparent California found that Charles F. Ferrari, a Los Angeles City Fire Captain II, collected $334,655 in overtime, to earn a total of $483,770 in 2016.
Second only to Ferrari, James P. Vlach, a Los Angeles City Fire Captain I, earned $332,582 in overtime in 2016. His total pay and benefits last year was $483,730.
Rounding out California’s top overtime earners is Donn D. Thompson, a Firefighter III with the Los Angeles City Fire Department. He earned $307,542 in overtime, a substantial chunk of the $439,485 he earned in 2016.
All three LA City Firefighters also earned the most overtime pay in 2015.
While some of the huge overtime earnings by LAFD firefighters are legitimate, Transparent California’s Robert Fellner says a large portion is thanks to firefighters earning overtime on their vacation days. But, don’t expect any change to the policy any time soon, he says.
“If you go against the firefighter union and you say, ‘hey guys, to save taxpayer’s money, maybe we shouldn’t treat your vacation days as if you worked?’ That is then spun as you being anti-safety, anti-firefighter,” Fellner told KNX1070 Newsradio.
The amount of overtime paid out in such a manner is problematic because it leaves less money for other necessary services, he said.
“The only reason this matters is because it’s money coming from residents who, on average, make about $40K a year, and it’s money coming out of the city budget that’s being taken away from other services,” Fellner said. “You have less ability to hire more firefighters or cops, less to pay your teachers, less to pave in the roads.”