MassDOT employees didn’t take a detour when it came to overtime

In a glaring trend, the top overtime earners at MassDOT are dominated by male supervisors, a Herald payroll analysis shows.

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MassDOT 2022 payroll including overtime

It’s the same basically across state government with those in charge grabbing a lion’s share of the extra hours. Out of the 20 top OT earners in the transportation department who all took home an extra $70,000 or more last year in bonus pay, all but one are male. They are also listed as “supervisor,” “foreman” or “coordinator.”

In total, three transportation officials earned $200,000 and up in 2022 while almost 1,400 earned $100,000 or more with OT a major driver of that take-home income, payroll records show.

MassDOT said Thursday evening OT is doled out due to a few factors.

“Overtime is distributed based on the operational needs of the assigned unit and the collective bargaining agreements of staff,” the department told the Herald.

“Generally,” they added, “supervisors tend to generate higher levels of overtime due to the requirements of their positions which require them to be present to supervise staff for operations that may occur after hours such as emergency and planned roadside maintenance and storm events.”

As the Herald has reported this month as part of the 16th year of the “Your Tax Dollars at Work” report, overtime is being paid out across state government at a record pace.

Why? One expert says the labor crunch is opening up opportunities for those with jobs that require training.

“The huge labor shortage, in general, has been exacerbated in transit due to the long training required and that can lead to overtime for others,” said Professor Ruth Milkman of the City University of New York.

“During the pandemic, a lot of people got sick died or left,” Milkman, a labor researcher, explained saying there’s little big bosses can do but shell out OT.

The alternative, she added, is hiring more workers and training them quickly. “But that is going to take time,” she added. Pay is also a factor as employers compete for skilled labor.

That means the big OT winners in Massachusetts government — usually dominated by State Police — now include nurses, MBTA workers and corrections officers.

The state’s overtime budget pushed some past $300,000 in total pay last year — with two eclipsing $400,000 in gross income.