Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The sick leave news isn't

The top headline in the JS yesterday screamed that public employees get to accumulate and cash in some portion of their unused sick leave when they retire, as if this were 1) scandalous and 2) news.

As for scandal, it's no more scandalous than cashing in vacation time. It's a benefit, generally negotiated, and weighed off against other considerations. If someone doesn't use 120 days of earned sick time during a long career and is allowed to cash in 30 of them at retirement, where is the scandal? Who is the winner? (Full disclosure: I'm a public employee accumulating sick leave, although since retirement is still fairly theoretical at this point, I am very hazy on the details.)

As for news, it just ain't. Remember the county pension scandal? Part II of that was the unlimited sick leave payout Milwaukee County allowed its employees to cash in. The scandal was not that the county allowed sick leave payouts, but that it didn't limit them.

JS reported on this repeatedly over the years. Why is it pretending now that sick leave payouts are something nobody knew about?

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