Congressional candidate Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton)
Congressional candidate Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) points to the 244 available sick days Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) leaders were able to hammer out for members as part of their new contract agreement as a prime example of the extreme power the CTU possesses.
“The sick-day game is just one more outrageous benefit the unions have gotten away with,” Ives wrote in a post to Facebook after the nearly two-week Chicago teacher’s strike finally came to an end. “On top of the sick days, they typically have three personal days, 10 paid holidays and generous vacation plans. In many cases, they could have 10 paid weeks off in a year.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that union members will now be able to stack up to 244 sick days or more than six times as many as they had before the walkout and more than the equivalent of an entire school year. All the accrued time can potentially be used by veteran employees to retire early while receiving full pension benefits.
According to the Sun-Times, the 40-day cap was instituted more than seven years ago after a review of policy uncovered that teachers were taking advantage of a loophole to stockpile sick days and cash out at retirement at a cost of tens of millions of dollars to taxpayers.
“Teachers get at least 12 sick days per year for a 180-day work requirement,” Ives posted. “In some contracts that number is higher. I don't know anyone in the private sector that gets to carry over and cash in sick days or has as generous paid vacation and holidays.”
The new contract also allows employees to use accrued sick days as regular sick days, or as paid leave, under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or to supplement short-term disability leave. In addition, teachers can now retire at age 55 with 35 years of service, at age 60 with 20 years of service, or at age 62 with five years of service and receive their full pension benefits.
Employees are also still allowed to share up to 10 days from their sick-day bank with other employees in need. In all, employees are allowed to pick up as many as 45 days from co-workers.
Ives, who served for six years as state representative in the 42nd District, is now running against U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) in the 6th Congressional District.