A city sewer engineer for the Department of Environmental Protection, which handles our drinking water and wastewater, made $771,841 last year. However, before you rush out to buy some coveralls, note that Gerald Mistretta—and six other high-grossing colleagues—only earned that much because he worked 16 years without a raise.
"I know it looks like a lot of money," Mistretta tells the Daily News, "But people don't realize the hardships we went through. We have families, and colleges to pay for, and mortgages." Indeed, around a thousand city workers received more money than usual because they'd been working since 1995 without a contract, and back-pay and COLA payments were finally settled in 2009 after years of litigation. "We would have gladly taken a contract back in 1993 or 1994," Mistretta says. "Imagine in 2009 still making what you made in 1993?" Especially since contracts in 1993 stipulated a certain amount of "MC Hammer pants" that are virtually useless in today's economy.
The sewer workers' union president explains that the payouts aren't as shocking as they seem, given that the employees were "deep in debt. Any back pay they got is already gone." Another similar settlement made for FDNY radio mechanics gave one Queens dad $364,815 last year due to a labor dispute. But like all "rich people," he's already complaining about Uncle Sam: "Taxation is brutal." Is that what you and all those "wealthy" MTA workers talk about at the country club?