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State crackdown stymies retirement plans of Raleigh workers

Posted September 4, 2009
Updated September 7, 2009

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— Imagine you were getting ready to retire, only to find out that the rules have changed without warning. That's exactly what's happening to hundreds of employees of the City of Raleigh.

Late last week, the state decided to enforce a rule about sick time that the city has been skirting for years.

Mayor Charles Meeker expressed the concern of city leaders. "This is a benefit the employees have worked for and earned and they ought to get," he said.

Retirement rules may burn Raleigh employees Retirement rules may burn Raleigh employees

City leaders are outraged, but state leaders say the law is the law. According to that law, sick time accrued on a monthly basis may be used toward retirement. However, Raleigh allots some sick time not monthly but at intervals -- three months after three years of service, another three months after 15 years of service, and six months after 25 years of service.

In a career, a city employee can bank up to a year to use in retirement. Effective Aug. 1, the state declared that practice illegal. Some employees looking forward to taking it easy may have to work for another year.

Cynthia Rubens was planning to retire Jan. 1 after 28 years as a Raleigh firefighter. Rubens, 52, said, "The adrenaline just doesn't carry me that far, that long, any more."

She sold her car, and bought a home farther from the city. Now, she have to make a longer commute for another year.

Leaders with the Department of the State Treasurer, which oversees retirement services, said they first learned about Raleigh's rule in July.

"I feel badly about it, but I don't have much choice, said Michael Williamson, state director of retirement services.

"When it comes to my attention that there's a policy out there that differs with the state statutes, I have to act with what the General Assembly has directed me to do," he said.

Leaders of both city and state plan to meet next Friday to see if they can work out a compromise. If they can't, a change may have to wait until it can be considered by the General Assembly. In the interim, the state has agreed to grandfather in anyone who has already retired. They will not lose the benefit.

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  • common_sense_plz Sep 7, 2009

    See people this is what you get when Democrats are in control!! They take everything as you can see, and now they have taken away anywhere from a few months to a year and a half to nearly 2 years of thier lives have been taken away from these men and women. What the state (Bev Perdue) has done is wrong and by the stroke of a pen, she stole a great deal of time that every man and woman worked hard for. these are dedicated men and women who did not ABUSE their sick leave, so these dedicated men and womem are now peing penalized for being GREAT WORKERS. My suggestion to all city workers that this affects, is to go to the Gov. mansion and surround it and stand with your backs to it and BEND OVER..dont pull your pants down, just bend over, then go to the legislative bldg. and do the same. I do hope we can all survive this until 2012 when we can get all these state and country destroying Dems out of office.

  • s.wake.co Sep 7, 2009

    Something doesn't make a whole lot of sense here. It has long been a practice of state government to include un-used sick leave in a state worker's retirement. If there is a law against a city including sick leave in retirement benefits, how is that any different from state governement's inclusion of it (un-used sick leave)? Seems to me the reporter who wrote this story needs to do some more background work and report more of the FACTS about whatever is going on here.

  • OSX Sep 4, 2009

    now we know why Bev is out of the country !!!!!!!

  • superman67112005 Sep 4, 2009

    This needs to BE FOUGHT and FOUGHT HARD!

    How many legislators who are voted in by the public and many of those working people you just really goofed over attend ALL OR MOST of the MEETINGS they are supposed to attend! On the behalf of the people, they are playing golf, enjoyin the beach, losing emails (yeh right) and spending mine and your hardearned monies (PLURAL). YOU FOLKS need to recheck this one!

    BOSTON TEA PARTY and A GREAT BIG BONFIRE (STARTING WITH LEGISLATORS BENEFITS)!

  • illegals--GO HOME Sep 4, 2009

    Saturn5........yes they can and do in lots of places. Sprint retirees lost their health coverage just a year ago right out of the blue and it was taken from those ALREADY RETIRED! My uncle was one of them and boy was he surprised after 4 years of being retired.

  • working for deadbeats Sep 4, 2009

    Everybody hired before 8/1/09 should not have to be subject to this. The state new darn well this was the case. They knew the citys retirement policy and went with it. You can thank the wasteful spending dem's for this one who need WORKING people to WORK more. How about cut spending on trips to China or cut welfare benefits for people who just don't want to work at all?

  • dohicky Sep 4, 2009

    Oh me, news is people in the public workplace are losing benefits they thought they had after they retired and the companies can come along and all of a sudden the benefits are gone. We are all paying that price. Workers starting out today are lucky to get vacation much less sick days and retirement benefits. It is the times we are living in - welcome to the real world.

  • rfd32000 Sep 4, 2009

    This practice has been going on for 30 years and the state is just now saying they are learning of it? I don't buy that for one minute. Every piece of retirement paper crosses somebody's desk for review. There is no way the state didn't know about this. The employees are having to pay for the state government's ignorance.

  • saturn5 Sep 4, 2009

    You can't take away a benefit already granted. You can change the program going forward, but not retroactive. Sounds like a class action lawsuit in the making.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Sep 4, 2009

    Ouch! Sounds like the City is the problem in this case.