Jersey City Spends $15 Million On “Longevity Pay” While Touting Pay Freeze

The Jersey Journal reports on a much used but rarely explored method to boost the pay of government employees in Jersey City, New Jersey:

A long-standing tradition among public employees, longevity pay costs some public entities millions of dollars a year, and yet it receives scant attention, with foes of government waste focused more on sick time benefits or overtime payouts.

Longevity pay comes in the form of bonuses to employees for continued employment with a public entity. The longer an employee works, the larger the longevity bonus is.

In total, Jersey City taxpayers last year paid out $15,089,184 in longevity pay to employees of the city, the school district and five of the city's seven autonomous agencies, according to records reviewed by The Jersey Journal…

The records show that some workers received bonuses equaling 19 percent of their base salaries, while half of the city's roughly 2,600 employees received longevity pay equivalent to 5 percent or less, even as the city touted a years-long pay freeze.

Local governments all over use “pay freezes” to deflect criticism of wasteful pay and benefits. In New Jersey’s largest city, Newark, which has relied on state aid for years to balance its budget, longevity bonuses were used to boost the pay of not just city employees but appointed and elected officials too. Members of the city council, who are part-time employees, are the best paid in the state.

Longevity pay is even more ridiculous given the job security public sector employees tend to enjoy. A previous report out of New Jersey meanwhile revealed widespread abuse of a state law that let union workers draw city salaries while doing no government work. Heroes all.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The records show that some workers received bonuses equaling 19 percent of their base salaries...

    I'm guessing those are the very special employees, top tier, the kind that maybe don't have to show up to work that often but are good at getting out the vote or raising campaign funds.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Well sure, any kind of union/political scam sounds bad when you don't spin it.

  • Almanian.||

    Geez, my bonuses are based on hitting icky annual "performance targets" for safety, quality, profitability and stuff. Ima definitely suggest to the comp office that we go to the "logevity" method to calculate them - much better!

  • R C Dean||

    Tell HR that you are concerned that tying bonusses to arbitrary metrics could accidentally (!) result in a situation where "protected" classes weren't getting as much, leading to discrimination suits.

    Safer to give them out for just showing up.

  • Big 'Orra||

    Geez, my bonuses are based on hitting icky annual "performance targets" for safety, quality, profitability and stuff.

    Since your average government worker's "performance targets" would be screwing, fleecing, controlling and harassing their fellow citizens, I think I'd rather incentivize them to sit in a chair and age ... sounds better than the alternative.

  • Number 2||

    Longevity pay, like pensions, health care after retirement and ridiculous amounts of paid time off (cashed out to the employee if not used) are all remnants of the time in which government employees truly were paid salaries that were a fraction of their public sector equivalents. These fringe benefits were intended to offset the lower salaries. But just like pensions, health care after retirement and ridiculous amounts of paid time off, longevity pay remained on the books over the past quarter century as public sector salaries, at the behest of the public sector unions, caught up with and surpassed their private sector equivalents.

    And because longevity pay, like pensions and ridiculous amounts of paid time off cashed out if not used, are all based on one's salary, as salaries exploded, so did the value of longevity pay, pensions and paid time off.

    Hence the financial hole in which municipalities find themselves.

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