Well, if you had any doubts about it you must know by now just how much we are working at the State of Illinois/City of Chicago Public Education System Patronage Pit...
The New York Times
January 28, 2012
Ex-Workers at City Colleges Paid for Unused Sick Days
By PATRICK REHKAMP
Wayne Watson, a former chancellor, is a big beneficiary.
Many public and private employers have a use-it-or-lose-it policy toward sick time. But the City Colleges of Chicago has generated more than $7 million in postemployment sick day payments for about 140 former employees in the last decade, according to records obtained by the Better Government Association.
Wayne Watson, the former chancellor at Chicago’s community colleges, was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the policy — he accrued 500 unused sick days, for which he will be paid about $500,000.
Mr. Watson, who stepped down from the top job in 2009, has already received about $300,000 in sick day payments and he will receive two more annual payments of $100,000. City Colleges records show the system has paid retirees at least $3 million and still owes them $4.2 million.
In addition to Mr. Watson, at least 15 former City Colleges administrators were owed $100,000 or more in unused sick time payments in the last decade, according to records. Charles Guengerich, a former president of Wilbur Wright College on the Northwest Side, was due $309,061 in sick time. Martin Faber, former executive director of business services at Richard J. Daley College on the Southwest Side, was expected to receive $216,973.
On Friday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office ordered City Colleges to halt all payments for unused sick time to Mr. Watson and other former administrators while his office tried to determine whether the money still owed to them must be paid. “The mayor has zero tolerance on this,” said Jennifer Hoyle, a spokeswoman for Mr. Emanuel. “This is not a benefit City of Chicago employees receive.”
In November, the City Colleges board, at the urging of its new chancellor, Cheryl Hyman, voted to eliminate pay for unused sick days for new nonunion employees.
City Colleges’ vice chancellor, Laurent Pernot, said that the change was made to “save taxpayer resources.”
Asked about his $500,000 payment, Mr. Watson, who is now president of Chicago State University, said, “You’re asking me about three years ago and a different institution.” He declined further comment.
Mr. Watson worked for the City Colleges for 31 years, including the last 11 as chancellor. He had an annual salary of $300,000 when he retired. Under the system’s policy at the time, departing nonunion employees who met certain age and service requirements could convert 80 percent of their unused sick time to cash, with no cap on how many days they could amass.
Mr. Watson took only 11.5 sick days in the last decade he was with the City Colleges. In addition to his payments for unused sick days, Mr. Watson receives a pension of $140,000 a year and is paid $250,000 a year at Chicago State.
Under the revised policy, new nonunion employees can accumulate up to 200 days of unused sick time, but they are no longer allowed to cash out any of them when they leave the college system, Mr. Pernot said.
A similar perk that Mr. Watson and other managers enjoyed remains in effect, however, for the unionized employees of the City Colleges.
Members of the Cook County College Teachers Union who were hired before July 15, 2000, can still cash out 80 percent of their unused sick days upon leaving City Colleges if they meet certain age and service requirements, and they have no cap on the number of days they can collect. Union members hired on or after July 15, 2000, can cash out a maximum of 80 unused sick days.
The contract that provides those benefits expires next year. In negotiations for a new one, City Colleges officials hope to bring the rules for union employees in line with the newly enacted policy for nonunion employees, Mr. Pernot said.
Patrick Rehkamp is a senior investigator for the Better Government Association. Mari Grigaliunas contributed reporting.