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Union Defends 13 Calif. Lifeguards Making Over $120,000: 'Very Fair & Very Reasonable

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“Lifeguard salaries here are well within the norm of other city employees.”

If I told you that there were 13 full-time lifeguards making over $120,000 a year in Newport Beach, CA, what would you say? Well, while you contemplate that, let's review what the union said.

“We have negotiated very fair and very reasonable salaries in conjunction with comparable positions and other cities up and down the coast," Brent Jacobsen, president of the Lifeguard Management Association, told the Orange County Register. “Lifeguard salaries here are well within the norm of other city employees.”

The details of those "very fair and very reasonable salaries" are given by the group Americans for Prosperity, which exposed the pay in a video last week:

Yes, you heard that right. One retiree will receive $108,000 per year for the rest of his life and will make well over $3 million in retirement if he lives to age 80.

The Register recaps the entire salary debacle:

According to a city report on lifeguard pay for the calendar year 2010, of the 14 full-time lifeguards, 13 collected more than $120,000 in total compensation; one lifeguard collected $98,160.65. More than half the lifeguards collected more than $150,000 for 2010 with the two highest-paid collecting $211,451 and $203,481 in total compensation respectively. Even excluding benefits like health care and pension, more than half the lifeguards receive a total salary, including overtime pay, exceeding $100,000. And they also receive an annual allowance of $400 for “Sun Protection.” Many work four days a week, 10 hours a day.

Such fiscal practices are not uncommon in California. As Business Insider pointed out last year, there are 16 city managers earning over $300,000.

"The Newport Beach City Council – as well as other beach cities – ought to take a hard look at reforming the pay scale and compensation for lifeguards as well as the way in which the department is organized," Brian Calle writes in the Register. "This is a reasonable starting point for applying some fiscal sanity to public employee compensation."

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