State contractors (that don’t work for the state) get holiday pay

Talk about having it made – read this interesting little tid-bit in the APP:

All I know is if I got paid $120 per hour – I’d get my rear end to the job at the first opportunity.  It’s things like this that need to be re-worded as soon as I get elected (…whenever that will be..)

 Last Tuesday, Garden State taxpayers paid some 700 private-sector snowplow drivers the agreed-to rate of $120 or so per hour to clear New Jersey’s roads.

But those drivers also got another $13 per hour added on, because the snow swirled on Lincoln’s Birthday, a state workers’ holiday in New Jersey.

Though the private contractors don’t work for the state, their contract provides them holiday pay — whether that holiday is Thanksgiving, Christmas or a day that’s not generally observed by the private sector.

“That,” said state Sen. John Adler, D-Camden, “is like paying a guy extra to shovel snow because it happens to be snowing.”

Tom Vincz, a spokesman for the state Department of the Treasury, and Erin Phalon, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, said there is a long-standing clause in the contracts offered to private snowplow operators.

They said the clause gives the plowers the extra pay because it is more difficult to get the plow operators to work on a state holiday, that it is a seller’s market on such days because people like to be off from work.

“Somebody needs to go back and re-evaluate that contract,” said Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean Jr., R-Union.

“Somebody could have figured out a way to word this (contract) to exclude a holiday that no one else gets time off for,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, the chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee. “A Tuesday in February is not a special time to gather with family and friends. It’s just another day.”

Wisniewski said he will ask acting state Treasurer David Rousseau and the Department of Transportation to account for how much those premiums have cost over the years.

“It’s a waste,” said Wisniewski.

“It’s a market-driven process,” reasoned Vincz, who added the premium had been requested for more than 20 years by the DOT. “The thinking has been to place the premium on clearing snow off the state’s roads, and to pay the premium to get them (plow operators) away from other jobs to do the state roads.”

“In order to obtain service on a weekends or a holiday, the state must pay premium rates,” said Phalon.

All public-sector holidays are treated equally by the contract.

“These are the things that make taxpayers crazy,” said Sen. Bill Baroni Jr., R-Mercer. “I know lots of guys who have a plow and who would jump at the chance to work for the state. … That is ridiculous. It may be harder to get someone on Christmas or certain other holidays. But with all due respect, Lincoln’s Birthday?”

In Morris Plains, Pasquale Casamassa, owner of Casamassa Lawn and Plow Service, said there is no shortage of willing plow operators on Lincoln’s Birthday, and he said he is unaware of any market forces to suggest otherwise.

“Not, it shouldn’t be hard. It’s government. They’re just spending the money,” Casamassa said.

“Lincoln’s Birthday? No problem at all,” said Bryan Curty of Schulz Lawn and Snow Management, operating in Ocean and Monmouth counties. “Most of us pay for a weather service. We know how much snow is coming. It would have been no problem at all on Tuesday getting contractors.”

Russell Lawson, owner of R. Lawson and Co., a Toms River provider of large snow-removal equipment, likewise said Lincoln’s Birthday has never been a day when the state would have difficulty locating plowers. “The answer is no,” he said.

New Jersey and at least four other states observe Lincoln’s Birthday — Missouri, New York, Connecticut and Illinois.

Labor lawyer Jim Castagnera, who is also associate legal counsel at Rider University, said of the premium paid to plowers, “That does not surprise me. … It may not be great for the taxpayers.” Castagnera said he doesn’t know of other instances where a private-sector contractor received a premium because the job fell on a day when other state workers enjoyed a contractual holiday.

Phalon said the total costs to clean up Tuesday’s storm was $580,000, spread over Tuesday and Wednesday. The average pay to plowers, including the $13-per-hour premium, was $140 per hour.

The DOT also directly employs roughly 500 snowplow operators who helped clear the roads last Tuesday and were paid overtime for working on a state holiday.

Tom Baldwin: tbaldwi@gannett.com

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2 Responses to “State contractors (that don’t work for the state) get holiday pay”

  1. lukaitisphoto Says:

    This is such a small part of why we are in a budget crisis in this state. Start by treating the state workers like those in the private sector with sick and holiday pay and we can start getting the budget and property taxes in control.

  2. Sea Isle City Guy Says:

    With wasteful spending like this in place, it results, ultimately, in unfairly higher taxes for the people of the state. It’s great when people get to make out well on the state’s budget, but no fun when it’s time to pay up.


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