Jul 10, 2012

The Public-Employee Whipping Boy

Story in the local rag, headline:
Vacation pay day: New York doled out $256M since 2007 for unused time

Short form: It's not fair that the state has to pay out all this money to public employees.
Critics said that government employees often get more vacation and sick time than workers in the private sector. "State employees have more generous vacation allowances than private-sector employees do. They get more vacation time sooner," said E.J. McMahon, senior fellow for the Empire Center for New York State Policy, an Albany-based fiscally conservative think tank.
Eighty-one percent of the cash outs over the past five years — about $208 million — came from unused vacation time, the comptroller's records show.

 Look, it's no secret that I'm a public employee. I have been for quite some time. My previous job - in the private sector - started me with three weeks (15 days) of vacation time and twelve sick days annually. I couldn't carry over my sick time, but vacation time could carry for a year, if memory serves. That'd be 27 days of time off annually, plus six paid holidays. If I stayed five years, they added five days of vacation time.

When I started my current job, I got 10 days of vacation a year, six "personal" days (sick days), and twelve paid holidays. Due to the scheduling necessities of the job, paid holidays are effectively vacation days. Add it up. 28 days off annually, down from 33. I can accrue up to three times my annual allotment in vacation time, and twice my holiday and personal time.*

Of course, that means I'm not taking time off. Doing that was how MrsZ and I were able to take a two-week trip across the country and back a couple years ago and I was able to pad it a week on either side. It's time off that I earned - that all those evil public employees earned - and didn't take immediately.

Whether we're paying for it a day or three at a time across a year or in a lump sum at retirement makes no difference - signing on to be a public employee doesn't mean we should give up our time for free. Unless something's changed in the private sector, they pay departing employees for accrued time as well... but we won't mention that; it doesn't fit the Evil Public Union Narrative.

* - if I work my full thirty years to retirement, I'll be able to have up to 12 weeks of vacation time accrued at any given point. If the county pays it out in a lump sum, yes, it's a significant five-figure number; about the equivalent of a new compact car or a pretty good used car.

No comments: