OCSEA defends state leave payout for union members

Posted Feb. 19, 2019 by

OCSEA Pres. Chris Mabe recently responded to a Columbus Dispatch story on the contractually-bargained sick, vacation and personal leave cash conversions for state employees.

The Dispatch story focused primarily on managers, especially those who were taking new positions within the DeWine administration. Some of them were able to cash out huge leave balances before taking their new, higher-paying jobs. Some groups are questioning that practices.

“What we tried to explain, is that for state bargaining unit employees it’s a completely different scenario,” said OCSEA Pres. Chris Mabe. “You just don’t see those kinds of big payouts for our members,” he said.

First of all, there are limits on how much can be cashed out either at the end of the year, upon retirement or when taking another position in state government. But second, many OCSEA employees in 24/7 operations are considered “essential” employees, so their leave can be refused. “The cash out may be the only way some state bargaining unit employees get their leaves at all,” said Mabe.

Managers, on the other hand, have much more flexibility to comp their time or flex their schedules. A Correction Officer can’t do that, Mabe told the Dispatch.

From a management perspective, being able to cash out leaves also incentivizes employees from using their leaves. This has the added benefit of saving the state money, since sick leave must be cashed out at a lower rate.

“If there is a bargaining unit member who is able to bank their leaves, it’s only because they worked their tail off and didn’t take any leaves through the years. For the state, that’s a good problem to have,” said Mabe.

In fact, for all these reasons, the state was willing to negotiate a vacation cash out with OCSEA that takes effect in December of this year. OCSEA Bargaining Unit employees will be able to cash out 40 hours of vacation leave in December of each year, as long as they have 200 vacation hours on the books.

“We know that they public more and more recognizes the value public employees like teachers and highway workers and others really bring to our communities,” said Mabe. “These arguments about public workers being a drag on our economy are being revealed for what they truly are: political, biased stories, not based in reality.”

Read the Dispatch story HERE.