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44 Years, No Sick Days Makes Retirement Sweeter

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An employee of the Detroit Postal Service retired recently after 44 years on the job, an incredible feat in itself. What impressed her bosses the most, however, was her perfect attendance over all that time.

Deborah Ford says she took vacation time for doctor’s appointments rather than call in, and when she did feel sick, she’d just “shake it off”.

“You know what we say…”rain, sleet or snow, can’t stop the U.S. mail”, and that’s what I live by. I’m coming in,” Ford said.

The impressive employee got a surprise send-off earlier this month, complete with a party and a certificate proclaiming she was leaving with 4,508 sick-leave hours, which will be taken into account for her pension. According to Detroit’s laws, Ford will gain a 5% increase in her take-away pay for all those unused hours.

Paid sick days are one of the many perks of working for the Postal Service, as employees are given one a month which can accrue over time without limitations. Despite numerous post office closings over the past year and rumors that the entire service is dying out, the U.S.P.S. is still trying to take care of its employees.

Ford said she’ll miss the people the most.

“It’s been my honor to serve the postal system all these years. You don’t miss the brick and mortar, but you certainly miss the people,” she said.

44 Years, No Sick Days Makes Retirement Sweeter
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  • robin

    I have missed days because people who are sick refuse to stay home, there by making me sich. my children have missed days of school because people like you send your sick children to school. i stay home and my children stayed home to keep other people from getting sick. i think it is selfish to go to work sick, and to send children to school sick. you put us all at risk.

    • Ann

      No personnal responsibility Robin. They think it makes them better than others. Everyone gets sick, they need to get over themselves.

    • Eva

      Agree. I don’t think we should applaud people who are playing heroes going to work being ill, let alone set them as example. I had a mother who, during almost 50 years on the job called in sick jut once because she had to go to a hospital. Almost never was on leave etc.
      That is why today I have to say that I “had” a mother. And why? Because she wanted to make her employers “happy”. So, she never had a chance to enjoy her retirement years.

      • Jeff

        Oh come on people! We are all going to spread germs long before we feel the symptoms of the illness, so get over it.
        As a department manager that has an agenda to complete daily, it drives me crazy if I have an employee stay at home with the “sniffles”!! Put on your big boy or girl pants and get to work. I also have a hard time with running to the doctor everytime a person or child happens to sneeze.
        It is no wonder that the productivity in this country has declined, the american worker has become complacent and entitled. Now go have a productive and great day!

        • bob

          Coudn’t agree more Jeff. People what is wrong with you. You are in a haze. You must wake up quickly or your life will be over before you know it. Opportunity is out there.

        • akri

          No Jeff..the american worker has realized that even if one works their butts off and makes a lot of sacrifices, including working while sick, when one is no longer needed at the company, you’re out..nobody remembers all the extra hrs working for no pay and the sacrifice..so the american worker has got to take care of himself/herself when sick b/c nobody’s going to do it for them.

          • Jas McKnight

            Amen.

  • Ann

    And how many days did she cost other people because she went to work when she was sick? This is not a great thing unless she never had a cold or the flu or any other contagious day in her life. As a post office retireee, I have seen these “great people” that never take a sick day and have seen the damage they did to their work sections. If you are sick, especially if you have the days coming, do us all a favor and take the day off!!!

  • Dan

    I agree 100% Robin

  • Adrienne

    Stories like this make me really mad. We earn our sick, vacation, and personal days! Employees who wear not using them as some badge of honor do the rest of us a disservice. These are not non-profit companies…what exactly are you sacrificing for??

  • Richee

    As a retired postal worker management just laughs at people like this.
    She gave up 4500 hours at say $20.00 per hour.
    She got 5% more in her monthly pension.
    She lost big time.

    • kina

      Pretty much.

      • http://yahoo john

        you can;t put a price on honor if we all tried that we would have no poverty in america.

    • Rebecca

      Richee, that’s right!

  • JJH

    Why are some of you condemning her? The article says that she would take vacation time instead of sick time. Maybe vacation time didn’t roll over like sick time did. If she didn’t use up her vacation time, she’d lose it – but she got to keep her sick time. In that case, her strategy was smart. Unless she was planning on some 3 week trip, use the vacation for a sick day here and there and keep the sick days in case there’s some real emergency. Per the story, she had 528 sick days. If she had some major surgery she had the time ready to use.

    • Jas McKnight

      Smartest comment that I read on the topic.

    • Lois

      Exactly! My dad did the same thing. He worked 40 years as a postal worker and retired with a ton of sick days.Was praised for his dedication. Used his vacation days for foot surgery and then for other things. In a society where there is a high unemployment rate, we should be happy someone was willing to ‘toe the line’ like this lady did.There are alot of people that use sick days for other things than being sick. And as for the lady that said non profits don’t have employees that EARN PTO, guess again. I’ve earned every minute of mine.

  • Jen

    There are people that are that dedicated to their job that they know it is not necessary to take off for a little bit of a headache or sickness. I am one of those people that I only get 2 weeks off a year and I end up selling back 8 days! It isn’t a disservice to anyone other than people that call in for every little thing…that’s the only reason any one would ever say anything negative about this article. Congratulate someone rather than thinking it might make you look bad! Just remember…there is only one reason you are hired for a job…that is to be there, if you aren’t there and they can get by without you…maybe you aren’t that needed in the first place!

    • Susanne

      She said she came to work sick. That means she got other people sick. And that is just wrong. Sick means flu, bronchitis, stomach viruses etc. If you have that crap, STAY HOME!

      • Jen

        I go to work sick, for the reason I mentioned earlier…it also usually keeps people out of my office. :)

  • donna

    What is wrong with you people. I do not work but did for many years and years ago ALL companies had you accrue sick time. One of the companies I worked for allowed us to give others who needed the extra days our days (ie., if they were sick or whateverthe problem was). Let them appreciate their time they so rightfully earned.

  • Susanne

    She took no sick days. Good for her ONLY if she has a cast-iron immune system. Otherwise it means she came to work and got everyone else sick. Was she a mail sorter or carrier? I certainly hope not because that would mean she spread her germs to countless THOUSANDS of people. BOTTOM LINE: If you are sick, STAY THE HELL HOME. You have no business infecting other people. It’s stupid and plain selfish to come to work and spread your sickness.

  • RJ

    RIPKEN!

  • Rebecca

    Jeff, you sound just like another typical supervisor they (USPS) hired and has NEVER done the job OR couldn’t do the job and turned supervisor. Those people who go to work sick are the worst!! They sneeze and cough all over the place and touch common area stuff not taking into consideration about the other people. The whole office gets sick…one by one. The supervisors call in sick too, after they infected the place.

  • Vicki

    I believe in staying home when you are really sick but I believe people use the sick excuse way too much. I hardly ever miss work unless I have a fever or I am vomiting. There are many days that I don’t feel good but I don’t stay home. I work in a school and I see the same thing with the kids. They want to stay home for every little thing they can come up with. I think they learn it at home.

  • Eva

    It’s not the matter of “sniffles” but more serious ilnesses. But, even productivity of “snifflers” is questionable. I’ve seen it many times, and as a department manager too, can say that it got on my nerves. Another solution is work from home if it is possible.

  • Q

    I think she really cared about being at work to do her part and refuse to let a little sickness keep her home and it was a blessing that she really never got sick enough to stay home. We all know that the body can shut down and no matter how much you want to be at work the body says no and in 44 years she kept pushing, God sure is good. I congradulate her because that shows a work ethic that we all could learn from.

    • shar

      It is such a pity most of the others refuse to see the positive in this article. Jealousy and hate are awful things.

  • iused2beslim

    This ia a rarity I take my hat off to you. Job well done!!

  • lance

    WAIT A MINUTE!!! They get one sick per per month!!! And the accrue without limit!!! That is insane. No corporation offers that!!! And you wonder why the Postal Service is broke???

    • be nice

      If you want to complain that your job does not offer that perk, then apply to work for the USPS.

    • TheBride

      Good point!

  • andrea

    I’m sure her co-workers were thrilled with her spreading her cold/flu around the office, so she didn’t have to miss a day. Good for her.

    • TheBride

      I don’t know if she did that or not, but I do hate it when people do that! And they DO!!!!

    • Val

      I agree Andrea…all those days working when she was sick you know she had to pass something to somebody. Selfish of her really.

  • tim

    hmmm… how is this impressive? instead of taking sick leave, he took vacation leave. this isn’t like he wasn’t sick all those time. he just want to keep his sick days so he can get the cash when he retires. this is not a big deal what he is doing.

    • Trevor

      I think the big deal is that they don’t have paid vacation.
      But I’m not sure

  • Dee

    Okay folks let’s clarify something here that you all are missing; in the Federal Government “Sick Leave” accumulates at one day per month. “Vacation” time is on a USE OR LOSE basis annually; it does not roll over from one year to another. Since my husband was a Federal Employee with 20 years service, his Vacation time per year was 444 hours per year. Since the lady worked for the Postal Service for 44 years without taking “sick” leave, her vacation time possibly could have been 888 hours per year.

    For someone to have that many hours of vacation time built up annually, it would make logical sense to use her vacation time instead of sick time when she was ill.

    Also the Federal Government did not buy back my spouses vacation time when he retired, so we used it up before he retired. BUT they did buy back all his accumulated sick leave; he got paid for 400 hours of un-used sick leave and it boosted his retirement by 2%.

    So quit claiming that the lady came to work sick and spread her illness around; she wisely used her vacation leave to cover her ill days knowing that she would lose the vacation time at the end of each year.

    • Wayne

      Dee, I think for craft workers at the Postal Service, you can carry over 11 weeks vacation. You don’t lose it…you use what you need to or just take it in pay. She is under Civil Service rules and has already worked three years without increasing her retirement pension…which stops at around 41 years. She didn’t get paid for her sick leave when she left as she would have if it were vacation time…instead it was added as time towards years of service…and was an impressive amount. I’m proud of her as well as myself for working when others would have stayed home, but by saving my sick leave I was able to get paid when I had to have multiple surgeries for an illness and missed 6 months of work. That’s what sick leave is really meant for…the catastrophe that can come along when you least expect it. I agree with you that people should leave this woman alone for working when sick…it shows character. If she had been sick enough…she would have been asked to GO HOME by her supervisor. I never really did get sick that often. I guess it was because I was accustomed to the elements by working outside all the time and became used to it. One last thing…Postal Workers earn 13 days per year of sick leave as regulars…or 4 hours per two week pay period. Overtime has nothing to do with leave earnings…it’s based solely on one’s base hours…unless they are a non-regular (substitute not guaranteed hours) in which it is based on hours worked.

    • Mike

      Your clarification doesn’t make any sense. 444 or 888 vacation hours per year? That would be 55.5 vacation days or 111 vacation days.

  • Karen

    A 40-hr work week is 2080 hrs a year. So with 4508 hours, that’s ~two years & two months of pay. I’d have asked management if I could “Call out sick” for that amount of time and _THEN_ have my retirement kick in. Two years of full pay and not work? YES PLEASE!

  • gunther

    Just listen to all you bitter people. Can’t leave well enough alone. Geez, you’re no better than the media and their trivial stories. It’s all of you that make this world such a sad place to live in. Do yourselves a favor and go kill yourselves before you get even fatter and become even more of a burden. Sad, sad, sad….

    • shar

      Well said….well with the exception of sending them to kill themselves…lol

  • Wayne

    As a former postal worker I understand her desire to save her sick leave, but to take vacation time to go to the doctor was to say the least…dumb. As long as it is scheduled in advanced, there is no repercussion. After all, that’s what it is there for. I, too, worked when sick and probably shouldn’t have. In my career I called in sick just one day. I had worked for a carrier that had gone home sick one day and walked 15 miles on this person’s route with a migraine headache. I told my supervisor that morning I was not feeling up to walking 15 miles, but that had no impact. Upon my return I informed said supervisor that if my head felt no better the next day I would be calling in sick for the first time in my life. I felt that having done such a difficult route with a migraine and receiving no help from management, I should expect no more/no less the next day for my efforts. Lo and behold, I was no better in the morning and at my other half’s insistence, I called in sick. I heard from one of my co-workers the next day that the supervisor started screaming out for all to hear…that I had actually had the audacity to call in sick. So much for having the ONLY stellar work record in the office.

    Now I’ll get on my soap box and speak a little bit about what I KNOW about. It’s not like this at all offices and all supervisors aren’t like this, but the stresses of making the numbers does strange things to people’s rationales. People give the Postal Service a bad rap. True, there are some that seem to give us a bad name, but there are people like that in any business. No one has any idea of what a Postal Worker has to do…especially a city carrier (I’m guessing the person in this article was a clerk…it’s hard to go 44 years and not miss a day due to illness as a city carrier exposed to heat, cold, rain, sleet and snow…and dogs that don’t like you on THEIR property). Someone made a comment on the benefits at the Post Office. Trust me, they were hard earned, but are in jeopardy at every contract. People think Postal Workers make massive amounts of money…another myth. A good living…yes, but hardly the 100K that many think we earn. Mid 50′s BASE pay is about as good as it gets and the only way to go above that is with OT. I have seen many come and go through the hiring process over the years, but one thing is constant…and that is the words that come out of their mouth after a couple of weeks. They all say…”I had absolutely no idea what was involved in delivering the mail”. I just want to say that my customers respected me for making sure that they received THEIR mail and not someone else’s…and that it was there consistently every day…and it was with a smile. I never brushed off a customer who wanted to ask a question…or a stranger who asked for directions…and always make an effort to check in on the elderly and sick. I did these things not at the expense of the Postal Service (in this case YOU…the stamp buying public), but at my own expense by either cutting my break or part of my lunch to make up the time I spent with these people. It is, after all, what became the motto of a regular carrier on a route…we come to know our customers as family and are treated as such. Unfortunately, there is an increasing negativity towards the Post Office by those who hide behind the pen, or the keyboard, or the microphone, or in Congress to destroy this great entity. There is a large amount of misinformation and outright lies about the Postal Service. One is that we are subsidized by the government…which is an absolute lie. That disappeared 40 years ago…the Postal Service’s Congressional mandate is to just “break even”. Another twisting of the truth is about the debt at the Postal Service which is almost wholly in part to the mandate Congress put on the Postal Service in 2006 to fully fund retirement programs for 75 years in the future…over a ten year period. This is something no other Government agency is required to do. They also fail to mention that there is a push by the Postal Service to allow themselves to use what is believed to be up to 75 BILLION dollars that has already been OVERPAID into this system (of course Congress has probably already wasted this money on pork projects)…to help keep the business afloat without having to increase rates. Take out the Congressional mandate and the Postal Service would have survived this downturn in the nation’s economy with remarkable little damage. If you truly enjoy getting your mail by a person that is proud to have a decent paying job and cares for the people he/she serves you should send a letter to Congressman Darrel Issa of California insisting he work to help PRESERVE the Postal Service instead of dismantle it. This guy is on a power trip and will stop at nothing when it comes to one of his vendettas. If you see a Postal Worker that maybe isn’t acting as happy as you would like, perhaps he/she is under stress like the rest of us. Window Clerks are usually left alone to tend to customers lined up out the door. These offices might have had three people previously to handle all the window business, but with cutbacks more is asked and morale declines…plus it really looks bad to the person in line. I know it’s hard to do, but after standing there for fifteen minutes…give this person a smile and let them know that YOU know they have a demanding job trying to keep up under the conditions. I have hope that somehow…someway…the Postal Service will adapt to the changes in our technological future and will still be there for everyone six days a week as always. You may not be one of them, but a LOT of people…especially elderly people…look forward to their mail carrier or window clerk…greeting them every day with a wave, smile or hearty hello. Just think about that the next time you see one of the dedicated workers that bring you the mail…and fight against those who want to take this away from all of us to further their own career somehow. Do some research…you’ll be amazed at what you’re NOT told.

    • http://ancestry.com Andre Ross

      Your comment was very unneccesary. This woman worked really hard over most of her life and now she deserves to rest. If she wanted to use vacation time for doctors appointments and such, that is her choice. There is nothing stupid about that. I’m guessing that just maybe your jealous because you will never do as good of a job as this lady. Have a nice day!

      • jake

        that was stupid to say

    • JK

      Dude, you’re a mailman, chill.

    • John Thomasma

      what a dumbass

    • chris

      wayne, u r a complete loser. ur story is a waste of time and very rude, no one cares about you or ur story, or the usps for that matter, the usps is a completely useless govt org. that helps makes our country’s debt higher.

      • Mike

        Chris is ignorant of the facts! The post office recieves no tax dollars.

  • Petie

    Here’s how you take all the sick time you accumulate after a long career. Take FML, Family Medical Leave allows you to take all your sick time for YOURSELF. Then come back to work one day and retire, some companies don’t even require you to comeback to work for that one day.
    Just get a doctor to sign the FML paperwork and whom ever you work for can’t say a word.

    • http://yahoo jerry

      you are whats wrong with todays workforce. always looking for a to beat the system. Hey! if you don’t like your, QUIT!! they will find someone to replace your sorry ass

  • Tuddy

    You would think touching peoples packages would be loaded with germs. People sneeze and sometimes don’t even wash their hands when handling the mail.

  • Aero Head

    Why must folks be so down on someone? She did her job with pride and respect, something that, in the Detroit area, is very difficult. I know, I grew up in Detroit! Congratulations to this woman! As another woman from Detroit, I hope you enjoy the fruits of your labor!

  • http://www.cashfortwinkies.blogspot.com/ Jeremy

    Way to Go Girl. Set an example in the D!

  • Rampaging Manatee

    Bet she doesn’t take flu shots.

  • Mello

    Why do people care what she did, she showed up for 44 years to do her job, how she worked the system offered to her – is her right to do….no different than how the reader decides what is best for him/her and their job. Sheesh – so many people have nothing better to do than sulk in their own misery and bash others for making the best of life. Congrats to Deborah and thank you for your years of service as the “mail lady”!

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