UNION CITY - The Public Works superintendent in Union City is averaging nearly $50,000 in overtime a year, a Kane In Your Corner investigation finds, even though the city accepted millions in state aid in exchange for a promise that it would not pay OT to managers.
Henry Munker draws a salary of $85,000 a year as Public Works superintendent, plus another $12,000 a year as Union City's emergency management director. But the city also pays him time-and-a-half any time he works more than 40 hours in a week. Payroll records show he's taken in more than $145,000 in overtime during the most recent three-year span.
"He's a management employee; management is not entitled to overtime," says Joe Blaettler, a former deputy police chief in Union City and frequent critic of Mayor Brian Stack. He adds, "Guys who sweep the streets and work the garbage trucks haven't had a pay raise in five years."
He's not the only one who feels that way. Michael Riccards, who runs the Hall Institute, a nonpartisan think tank that specializes in issues like public waste, says Munker's arrangement is "another example…of the continued abuse of public positions in the state."
Mayor Stack declined to be interviewed on camera, but his spokesman, Mark Albiez, tells Kane In Your Corner that it is actually cheaper for the city to pay Munker overtime than to hire additional personnel. "Mr. Munker's overtime payments represent a great savings for taxpayers," Albiez says.
But that may not be up to Stack to decide. Union City is a "distressed" city that gets millions of dollars in additional taxpayer aid from the state. In exchange for that aid, Stack signed a memorandum of understanding promising not to pay overtime to managers or any other employees except when required by law.
Albiez insists the city is required to pay overtime to Munker because he spends a lot of time in the field and "he's a member of the (municipal employees') union." That's news to the union. It says it removed Munker as a member when he was promoted to management. The union even notified Union City in writing last year that Munker had been suspended from the union's rolls and was "no longer entitled to any provision or article within the Union Contract."
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, the agency that signed the memorandum of understanding with Union City, also declined to be interviewed, but a source there told Kane In Your Corner that the agency looked into Munker's overtime several months ago and referred the case to Union City's legal department. Riccards says these types of lucrative overtime arrangements have to stop. "I just wonder how long New Jersey's going to continue to allow this to happen, continue to allow public offices to be public troughs," he says.