The following story appeared in the Sunday, May 16, 2010 edition of The New York Post. MEA executive director Linda Barnes and I were interviewed by Reuven Blau, the reporter, last Thursday. While Mr. Blau quoted me correctly, there were other salient points we made that did not make it into the article.
In particular, we explained that managers receive only one day sick pay for every three days earned over 60 days while non-managers receive one for every two. Managers receive this money as a lump sum, while non-managers remain on payroll until all their leave time is exhausted. Non-managers’ pensions are thereby increased by these additional days worked. Thus non-managers receive a higher pension as well as higher payment rate than managers at the point of retirement.
Mr. Blau did not tell us anything the Citizen Union had said, therefore Linda Barnes and I could not respond to the twisted version of the situation that CU executive director Dick Dadey stated.
The MEA will remain vigilant in our efforts to protect and improve all benefits managers earn. Any attack on us you see in the media deserves your attention and response. If you see or hear such misinformation, please let us know by email – email@example.com or phone – (212) 964-0035.
Retiring workers' 'ill'-gotten gains
By REUVEN BLAU
Last Updated: 10:36 AM, May 16, 2010
Posted: 1:24 AM, May 16, 2010
Scores of city managers stockpiled hundreds of sick and vacation days and cashed them in for $100,000-plus parting paychecks before they retired last year, The Post has learned.
Three FDNY bosses were at the top of the list of 21 retirees getting six-figure golden parachutes, according to records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. And a city bean counter -- despite working for the budget agency that squeezes cuts out of other departments -- was fourth.
Managers in city government are allowed to cash in the hundreds of unused sick and vacation days they accumulate over their careers -- up to 27 days per year -- when they retire. They are paid in lump-sum checks, which cannot exceed their final yearly salary.
The advocacy group that represents city managers defended the payouts, noting they were all awarded to veteran bosses who had served for decades.
"They shouldn't be punished for being healthy," said Stu Eber, president of the New York City Managerial Employees Association. "They've accumulated weeks and weeks of time because they weren't going on vacation or using sick leave."
Watchdogs labeled the payments a "cash cow" for city supervisors.
"It's hard to explain to taxpayers why these generous packages continue when they are not entitled to them in the private sector," said Dick Dadey, executive director of the Citizens Union.
The payouts were issued while city officials struggle to balance the upcoming budget, which faces an estimated $4.1 billion gap.
Topping the list was Allen Hay, 57, the FDNY's chief of safety, who collected more days off over his 34-year career than any of the 6,700 other managers employed by the city.
Hay walked off with $177,917 on top of a pension that will also exceed $100,000 annually.
The other top FDNY managers both worked as top aides to then-Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta.
William Siegel, 64, took a $174,560 payout.
In March 2005, the former battalion chief wrote a smoking-gun memo about the former Deutsche Bank building, recommending a firefighting plan for the toxic skyscraper. But the advice was ignored, creating a deathtrap in which two firefighters died in an August 2007 inferno.
FDNY Personnel Chief Raymond Goldbach, 51, also took a $174,560 lump sum.
Charles Brady, who worked at the city's Office of Management and Budget for 37 years, was paid more in a final lump sum than any other civilian in the city -- a $173,780 goodbye gift.
"These guaranteed pay packages tie the city's hands in a way that need to be re-examined," Dadey said. "Why should city employees be entitled to these huge packages funded by taxpayers when the city is in fiscal distress?"
City labor officials could change such policies governing non-unionized managers, but the changes would likely need legislative approval and be politically charged.
Dadey said private-sector employees would love a similar "sweetheart" deal.
"It's a small price to pay. New Yorkers would be happy to give up sick time if they were still able to get a year's worth of compensation."
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