Perfect Attendance Postal Worker Retires After 44 Years in Detroit

Tuesday, 29 Jan 2013 09:40 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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A Detroit woman retired Wednesday after working at the U.S. Postal Service for 44 years without taking a single sick day, attributing her perfect attendance streak to a "positive attitude."

Deborah Ford, 64, worked in the Time Attendance Control System office at Detroit's main post office downtown for more than four decades, but insists there was "no fraud" in her attendance achievement, the Detroit Free Press reported.

"You know what we say — rain, sleet or snow, can't stop the U.S. mail," Ford told the Free Press. "That's what I live by. I'm coming in."

Ford used vacation days for doctor's appointments and whenever she felt under the weather, "I'd shake it off," she said. Her sick-leave balance totaled 4,508 hours, according to Chuck Howe, the Postal Service district manager who oversees the Detroit District.

Howe described Ford's career attendance as "amazing" and "remarkable."

Under the civil service formula, Ford will get a 5 percent increase in her pension for the unused sick days, Ed Moore, spokesman for the Postal Service in southeast Michigan told the Free Press.

Ford's accomplishment isn't enough to gain her entry into the record books, however. She's beaten by Mildred "Millie" Parsons, who retired from her job with the FBI in 2002, after going 63 years without taking a single sick day, according to Maryland newspaper The Frederick News-Post.

While not taking a sick day for decades is impressive, many American workers don't have the luxury of paid sick days to begin with. Thirty-eight percent of private sector employees lack any paid sick days, according to the Center for American Progress. Twenty-five percent of full-time workers have to sacrifice a day's wages when they're sick in bed, as do 73 percent of part-time workers.

Employees gathered Wednesday for a surprise retirement party for Ford at the Detroit office.

"It's been my honor to serve the postal system all these years," Ford said. "You don't miss the brick and mortar, but you certainly miss the people."

Ford said she is looking forward to resting and taking care of her 86-year-old father, who lives with her.

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