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Commentary By Manhattan Institute

New York City Civil Servants' Performance Is Plummeting, Analysis Shows

Cities New York City

Editor's note: The following is article by reporter Anna Sanders for the Sunday New York Post, based on a new Manhattan Institute analysis

City taxpayers aren’t getting their money’s worth.

While compensation for civil servants goes up in city jails, the subway system and schools, performance is plummeting, a new Manhattan Institute analysis shows.

Average pay and benefits for city Correction Department employees increased 18 percent in the last decade, while the rate of inmate assaults skyrocketed 183 percent at Rikers Island and other jails, the conservative think tank found.

Compensation for New York City Transit workers shot up 14 percent since 2010 even though subway on-time performance sank 20 percent.

And while the cost of pay and benefits for teachers, principals and other Department of Education employees increased 13 percent in the last 10 years, average test scores stagnated, increasing only 1 percent.

“It’s important that citizens really analyze whether they’re getting a bang for their buck,” said Dean Ball, the deputy director of state and local policy at the institute, who helped craft the project. “These numbers show pretty clearly that they’re just not.”

Transport Workers Union President Tony Utano called the analysis a “disgusting cheap shot,” adding workers keep the city moving, dealing with “unhinged” riders who “curse at us, spit at us, throw punches at us.”

“We’re sick and tired of right-wing ivory-tower academics who haven’t have gotten their hands dirty in their lives,” Utano said. “To suggest that transit workers are overpaid is insulting, and shows a complete ignorance of what we do and the sacrifices we make.”

Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association president Elias Husamudeen said they “should be getting a medal for our outstanding work.”

“How many workers in this city go home with broken noses, facial fractures and stitches across their face?” he asked.

“We’re proud to have righted a decade-long wrong by settling contracts for almost all of the city’s workers,” City Hall spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said. “These hardworking public servants deserve a fair wage.”

Ball said that while hourly wages have gone up “faster than inflation,” pensions and heath care costs drive the biggest increases.

“It’s these long-term obligations the city and state are going to have,” he said. “That’s really concerning.”

Ball said the best way to get public-sector pay under control is reducing the political clout of unions.

“They just have a stranglehold on Democratic politics,” he said.


Anna Sanders is a reporter for Sunday New York Post

This piece originally appeared in New York Post