Executive Director Frank Moroney Calls Attention to Unfair Gap in Management/Union Vacation Benefits in Brookline 06/05/2013

Letter: Vacation disparity between management, workers ‘glaring’
Source: Wicked Local Brookline

Brookline — It's not often that a public employee union finds itself thanking a group that tried to prevent a union contract from being funded. But an effort by Brookline PAX at last week's Town Meeting calls for just that.

PAX tried to put the brakes on funding for two contract agreements between the town and AFSCME Local 1358. It was not an attack on union wages and benefits. In fact, it was quite the opposite. PAX opposed funding for the contracts because the agreements establish a two-tiered system for vacation benefits. One tier maintains the current system of accruing vacation time for existing employees, while the other reduces the accrual rate and the amount of days that can be carried year-to-year for future town employees. PAX members view such agreements as a potential wedge between current and future employees - a wedge that over time could possibly weaken the labor movement.

No union likes to agree to tiered benefit systems, but sometimes they are a necessary evil in order to reach an agreement between two parties with opposite goals. And, since the contract was negotiated in good faith by both sides, AFSCME could not support the PAX effort, despite their noble intentions. Going forward, we ask PAX to support calling for an end to a far more glaring disparity in vacation benefits that exists between union employees and the people who manage them.

In addition to their annual vacation days, management employees receive three weeks of paid sabbatical leave annually, with additional bonus sabbatical leave for every five years of service. Management also enjoys a benefit known as "vacation buyback," which allows them to receive cash for unused vacation time. Back in 2008, the union secured data from the town revealing that 37 management officials were paid for 9,497 hours of unused vacation time between 2004 and 2008, at a cost of over $479,000 to the taxpayers.

So while AFSCME appreciates PAX’s concern, we respectfully ask the group to focus some effort on eliminating the outrageous perks enjoyed by town management employees. Doing so would make the sacrifices we made in our latest contract agreement far easier to accept.
- Frank Moroney, Brookline, executive director, AFSCME Council 93