A $49 Million Sweetheart Deal: MBTA Employee Sick Time Perk Enhances Pensions

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Listen to the WRKO radio clip of Mary Connaughton interviewed by Kim Carrigan; read a Boston magazine article. On Tuesday, Mary was on Boston Herald radio:

A story in the Boston Herald today shows that MBTA workers are boosting their pensions with sick days – costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. The article cites Pioneer’s newest report, A $49 Million Sweetheart Deal: How MBTA Employee Unused Sick Time Perk Enhances Pensions, written by Mary Connaughton. In the report, Mary writes:

The result of a sweetheart deal won by the Carmen’s Union paved the way for MBTA employees to enhance their pensions — potentially amounting to a whopping $49 million for current staff as of December 31, 2014.

A 1975 arbitrators’ decision granted members of the Carmen’s Union the perk adding unused sick leave to creditable service for purposes of calculating pension payouts, a practice that expanded to all staff at the MBTA. The perk resulted in the addition of tens of millions to the T’s pension liability and a strong incentive for staff not to use sick days for time absent from work.