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Report: MBTA Spending Out Of Control On Employee Pay

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BOSTON (CBS) – An independent research group says MBTA employees are paid far above the scale of other state employees and it’s the key reason the agency is in debt.

The Pioneer Institute study claims that 70-percent of the MBTA and commuter rail budget budget is personnel labor costs.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mark Katic reports

Former state inspector general Greg Sullivan is the institute’s research director.  He said MBTA employees pay a fraction of what other state workers pay for health insurance and receive higher pay.

“We agree that there is a need for hundreds of millions of dollars in capital improvements. But, one of the things that’s really driving the cost of the T and the commuter rail system, is the extraordinarily high compensation that the employees have, including work rules.”

Read: The report (.pdf)

“It’s not just engineers. They’re paying their customer service personnel, approximately $55,000 to $65,000. The equivalent pay at the Registry of Motor Vehicles for very similar work is about $20,000 less and this is true virtually across the board,” he told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Friday.

The report is being released at the height of a debate on Beacon Hill over new budgets for transportation agencies.

“The source for their information remains unclear,” MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an email to WBZ-TV after the report was sent to him.

“What is clear is that this document lacks the most relevant information about how the MBTA compares to other major US transit systems. The T welcomes such a comparison.”

Scott Farmelant, a spokesman for the MBCR which runs the commuter rail, told WBZ-TV’s Bree Sison the MBCR contract is a fixed cost contract, meaning the state knew exactly how much it would pay each year for operation.

Farmelant said the MBCR does not receive more money from the state when raises are awarded to employees and, therefore, it’s in the agency’s best interest to keep labor costs low in order to maximize profits.

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