The cash-strapped Bay Area Rapid Transit District, a regional commuter rail agency in the San Francisco Bay Area, created a social media storm in early November, when internet sleuths found and reported on public records showing one janitor making $270,000 in pay and benefits in 2015.

The janitor in question, Liang Zhao Zhang, to his credit, apparently accepted nearly every work opportunity available to him and “racked up” $162,000 in overtime. It is unclear whether the overtime was incurred as a result of California law or a collective bargaining agreement, but press reports indicate that his gross pay for the year was about four times his base pay. Comments in social media ranged from various versions of “why am I in grad school? Never too late for a career change...” to “given how gross BART is ... he deserves the money.”

Suffice it to say, BART management must not have exercised prudent scheduling to achieve one of the goals of overtime requirements – forcing employers to distribute available work to more workers. Will BART riders, taxpayers, and responsible politicians put up with that type of management for long, when BART is seeking approval to issue bonds and take on $3.5 billion more debt? One California state senator commented that the situation “was outrageous but not a surprise. Overtime at BART remains rampant,” and he is urging voters to reject the bond initiative. In contrast, an SEIU representative said the work is “backbreaking” and “involves cleaning up after the hundreds of thousands of workers that rely on BART to get to and from work every day.”

For a printer-friendly copy, click here.