The San Jose Mercury News reports that the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system is providing former employees with a retirement benefit that the newspaper’s editorial board describes as “an outrage.”
The newspaper explains:
“We knew that BART employees were eligible for a generous pension at no cost to them and for health insurance for just $92 a month no matter the size of the worker’s family. Now, for about 20 percent of BART’s 3,340 employees, add another perk that would never be offered in the private sector. … (F)ormer General Manager Dorothy Dugger, who was forced to retire in 2011, collected more pay than any other BART employee in 2012. When Dugger left, she and the district struck a deal giving her an immediate $934,000 severance. So how could she draw annual salary and benefits worth $420,000 the following year?
“It turns out that Dugger and other management employees can collect ‘terminal leave benefits.’ When managers are hired, they earn three weeks’ vacation each year, gradually increasing to six weeks after 19 years on the job. They also have 13 holidays. Naturally they don't use it all, so they're allowed to save unused vacation and holidays without limits. Many can even add some unused sick leave.
“When managers leave, they can use that accrued time to actually stay on the payroll – to continue receiving full salary, incentive pay and health benefits, and to accrue work credit that boosts their subsequent pensions. They even – get this – receive holiday pay and accrue more vacation time that they can use to further extend their time on the payroll.”
The editorial calls Ms. Dugger “the poster child for this abusive program,” noting that she worked for BART for 20 years, so she had about 3,100 hours of unused leave time. (Source: San Jose Mercury News, June 13.)