Local nurse is the overtime pay champ of California
October 27, 2011
A nurse at the California Men’s Colony (CMC) in San Luis Obispo earned $269,810 last year by tripling her regular pay with overtime hours. [Bloomberg]
Jean Keller got more overtime in 2010 than any other state employee. In all, California’s public workers collected $1.7 billion of extra pay last year, more than half of it in overtime, state payroll data show. The rest was for unused vacation and union-negotiated benefits such as clothing allowances, physical-fitness incentives and special compensation in recognition of a “complex work load.”
Other large payouts include a prison doctor who cashed out more than a $590,000 of vacation time when he retired, a computer specialist in the legislature’s legal office who got $61,905 in overtime on top of his $71,560 salary, a psychiatrist for the Developmental Services Department who received $97,700 in extra-duty pay and the head of the state gambling commission, who banked $169,623 in unused holiday pay.
Keller, the nurse at the prison outside San Luis Obispo who tripled her pay with overtime, worked 2,450 extra hours in 2010, or 102 full days. Some of that was required overtime, though she volunteered as well, said Nancy Kincaid, spokeswoman for the federal court-appointed receiver that runs California’s prison health-care system.
Keller wasn’t alone. Nurses working in California’s crowded prison system earned $54 million in overtime in 2010, an average of $13,600 each, in addition to their regular pay. Nurses working in mental health hospitals got $41 million more in overtime. Through her supervisor, Keller declined to comment.
California state employees can cash out unused vacation when they resign or retire. The practice of banking such pay for retirement is so prevalent that the Personnel Administration Department keeps a Lump Sum Separation Pay Calculator on its web page.