New York State Workforce Overtime Continues to Rise Every Year

ALBANY — Overtime costs at state agencies hit record highs in 2021, according to a new report by Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

The figure reached more than $924 million, an increase of 8.7% over 2020, and covered approximately 19.95 million overtime hours.

Overtime has hit three agencies the hardest – the Office of the Developmentally Disabled, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and the Office of Mental Health.

Hourly overtime charges averaged $46.33, according to the report. The state police paid employees the most at $83.13 per overtime hour. The City University of New York paid the second highest price, at $63.38 per hour, while the Unified Court System came in third at $59.41 per hour.

Factors behind the increase, according to DiNapoli, include workforce reductions over a 10-year period, from 2012 to 2021.

DOCCS, for example, saw its workforce decline by 18.7% during this period. The union representing DOCCS workers points out that this and the policy changes are contributing not only to higher overtime costs, but to an increase in inmate assaults on officers. In 2021, there were over 1,000 incidents. In 2017, there were 801.

“Factor that has increased the violence with the continuous mandatory overtime our members are forced to endure to meet all of the programming requirements included in the HALT Act, and you have a job that is not only dangerous to your good -be physical, but your mental health too,” said Michael Powers, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, a union for state employees and retirees in the security services unit. .

(It cites the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement Act (HALT), which came into effect earlier this year, establishing guidelines for humane conditions in solitary confinement, outlines reporting requirements and adds due process protections for detainees by prohibiting placement in solitary confinement prior to a disciplinary hearing and allowing access to counsel.)

Sherry Halbrook, acting spokeswoman for the New York State Federation of Public Employees, a union, said overtime was an obvious conclusion given the lack of overtime positions. In April 2020, a hiring freeze was put into effect for all executive branch departments and agencies.

“If you don’t have enough staff but you have to maintain services, then the people you have are going to be working overtime,” she said. “It is not satisfactory for our members who fear making mistakes when they are exhausted and work several shifts. It is not satisfactory for the taxpayers and it is not for the state government. It does no one any good to be seriously understaffed.

DiNapoli’s report said the recently passed budget detailed the state’s plans to increase the number of employees to pre-pandemic levels. He also suggested that the state continue to attract and retain diverse employees as the job market continues to be competitive.

Caroline Boardman, director of communications for the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), one of the largest labor unions in the state, said, “CSEA has worked closely with state government agencies to grow their workforce, using a variety of ongoing talent recruitment tactics. and strategies.

Michael A. Bynum