Many Americans long for that day when the ship finally comes in. For several New York City employees that day arrived last year when they raked in more than $700,000.
One of the group, Gerald Mistretta, a city sewer worker, made more than the police commissioner, the schools chancellor and the mayor -- combined, reports the New York Daily News.
The Brooklyn father of three took home $771,841 for the fiscal year that ended in June. The amount included a yearly base salary of $109,850 and $173,000 in overtime -- plus nearly half a million dollars in back pay, according to the tabloid.
Mistretta said the huge lump sum makes up for all the years he went without a raise -- 16.
The payouts resulted from a settlement reached in 2009 after years of legal jousting over Department of Environmental Protection workers' base pay, which resulted in the employees working since 1994 without a contract.
"I know it looks like a whole lot of money," Mistretta told the News. "But people don't realize the hardships we went through.
"It was a very difficult period," he said. "We have families, and colleges to pay for, and mortgages."
Six other senior DEP workers made more than $700,000, while 13 made around $600,000. Another 47 earned about $400,000 to $500,000.
Local 1320 President James Tucciarelli told the News the city has no one to blame but itself for the huge payouts.
"You can't hire skilled trade people to do the jobs ... and then string them out for eight or 13 years without a pay increase and then not expect to see exorbitant back-pay numbers," he said.
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