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EDITORIAL: California firefigher is the overtime king

Reason No. 1,217 to revisit public-sector pensions and benefits: A Los Angeles firefighter made so much overtime in 2017 that he would have had to work more hours than there are in a year.

Credit the Nevada Policy Research Institute for shining a light, through its Transparent California database, on Donn Thompson’s curious compensation. Mr. Thompson padded his $92,000 annual salary with $302,000 in overtime last year, making him perhaps “the highest-paid firefighter in American history,” noted Eric Boehm on reason.com.

Mr. Boehm crunches the numbers. Mr. Thompson makes $31.60 an hour, so his overtime rate — time and a half — would be $47.40. To hit the $300,000 mark, he’d have to work more than 6,370 overtime hours. Couple that with the 2,912 hours he worked for his base pay, and Mr. Thompson was on the job for 9,282 hours, even though there are only 8,760 hours in a year.

Obviously, Mr. Thompson didn’t work 24/7 year-round. Almost certainly, as Robert Fellner of the NPRI posits, his overtime rate was much higher than time and a half thanks to certain contract provisions. But the absurdity of all this again highlights how, in many cases, government workers are the new privileged class.

None of this seems to faze Mr. Thompson, who has earned more than $1 million in overtime over the past four years. Mr. Boehm notes that Mr. Thompson was featured in a 2014 San Diego Union-Tribune story on exorbitant overtime pay for firefighters.

“The first thing (people) think of is firefighters sitting around the station,” he told the paper. “But they’re not just handing out free money over here. I’m working hard.”

California taxpayers will no doubt be comforted to learn that the energetic Mr. Thompson will have plenty of time to recover from the toll of his laborious schedule when he retires on a six-figure annual pension for life.

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