It’s Not Just Wisconsin

Wisconsin has nothing on my home state of Massachusetts, especially when it comes to screwing good ol’ Joe Taxpayer with sick days.

Last week, Thomas Kinton, head of Massport (the Massachusetts Port Authority) announced that he would be retiring in June. An advanced announcement of this kind is excellent, as it allows Massport officials to start searching for a replacement for Mr. Kinton.

It also allows them to start saving up to pay for his pension, which is 67% of his salary in his highest earning year. Kinton’s base salary for 2009 was $295,000, so if that was, in fact, his highest earning year while at Massport, he will retire with a lovely annual pension of nearly $200,000.

But here’s the real kicker, and I’m tempted to say “only in Massachusetts could this happen,” except that I’m sure one of our readers will find other examples of this. Not only will Kinton retire with $197,000 annually, but the state will also have to kick in a one-time sum because his contract requires that he be paid for all accumulated unused sick time.

Would anyone like to take a guess at how much that is? According to the Boston Globe, Kinton will be paid $450,000 for sick time accrued but unused. That’s half a million bucks that we the taxpayers will be shelling out.

And make no mistake–Kinton has his hand out waiting for the cash:

“It’s what I’ve worked for,’’ Kinton said. “It’s something that is, I think, not the norm. But because I’m a CEO, and there aren’t many CEOs that have gone through the state retirement system with this many years of service, I think it just is not the norm and is the exception to the rule. But it’s the earned benefit and something that I’ve worked very hard for.’’ [emphasis mine]

Wait, what? I thought that’s what a salary was. Sick days are for, well, being sick and staying home so that you don’t infect your co-workers, and so that you can recover. But according to Massport, Mr. Kinton has accumulated 478 sick days during his tenure at the public trough (as of 2009; God only knows how many more days he has racked up in the intervening two years).

Regardless, Mr. Kinton, hero that he no doubt perceives himself to be, will ride off into his sunset years with a bountiful pension and a one-time payout of more-than-oriental splendour.

Because in Massachusetts, the fix is always in.


5 Responses to It’s Not Just Wisconsin

  1. Warren says:

    Lots of private-sector companies used to allow you to roll your sick days over at the end of the year, and eventually, if you didn’t use them, they would be cashed-out when you left. If Mr Kinton has managed to not be sick in his time working, why should that same benefit not be extended to him?

  2. Paul in BarneyFrankistan says:

    I don’t know where you’ve worked Warren, but in 35 years of private sector employment as an engineer I’ve never been able to roll over sick days, and I’ve never encountered anyone who has that privilege. I know more people who receive no sick time – if they’re sick, it comes out of vacation.

    My current company provides four days (it was five until a few years ago) and they vanish at the end of the year. This Massport prince received FIFTEEN sick days per year – no wonder he had days to spare.

  3. Warren says:

    @Paul, first, note I said “used to allow”. Second, I have worked at several locations where the “old-timers” still had their sick days, and continued to not use them (and accrue more) – finservs, insurance, old-school manufacturing, etc.

    As to 15 days a year… well. Yeah. That’s a lot. The current climate of combined PTO for everything, though, is pretty crappy compared to my first job out of highschool in 1998 wherein starters got 10 days of vacation time and 5 days of sick time (which could roll over).

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Stoutcat, Paul Levitt. Paul Levitt said: RT @Stoutcat: It's not just Wisconsin: Talk about screwing your own taxpayers… Only in Massachusetts! #tcot […]

  5. Stoutcat says:

    Warren and Paul, thanks for the civil conversation! I’ve worked in the private sector all my life, and in almost 35 years of work, I’ve never had sick days roll over. They were “use ’em or lose ’em” days, unlike at least some vaction days, which, depending on the employer, might be able to roll over to the next year, or even perhaps sell back one week max to the company.

    Warren, as you say, this used to happen. But how many others like Kinton have a perk like that grandfathered in? Here in Mass? My guess is far more than we would really want to know about.

    Paul, my company recently took away ALL our sick days… We now officially have “as many as we require” which is pretty clever, as it avoids massive numbers of employees calling in “sick” in December just to use up their days.

    Anyway, thanks for the disparate views!

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