Retiring Postal Worker Deborah Ford: 44 Years, No Sick Days

Deborah Ford no sick days

U.S. Post Service worker Deborah Ford retired this week with a perfect attendance record: 44 years on the job, without taking a single sick day. That means the 64-year-old Ford (above) logged just short of 11,000 workdays.

"You know what we say -- rain, sleet or snow" can't stop the U.S. mail, she told Detroit TV station WDIV-TV. "And that's what I live by. I'm coming in," said Ford, who used vacation time for doctor's appointments. And whenever she didn't feel well, "I'd shake it off," she said.

Chuck Howe, the Postal Service manager who oversees the Detroit district and its more than 13,000 employees in Michigan's eastern half, called Ford's service "amazing and remarkable."

He presented her with a special retirement proclamation during a surprise send-off luncheon Wednesday.

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Ford's accomplishment isn't enough to gain her entry into the record books, however. She's beaten by Mildred "Millie" Parsons, who started working at the FBI when she was 25, and retired in 2002, almost 63 years later, without taking a single sick day.

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 left-leaning 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.

But the Postal Service is particularly generous. According to its website, employees accrue four hours of paid sick leave every 13-day pay period, which adds up to a paid sick day a month. These days apparently accumulate over the years, without limitation.

More:Flu Outbreak Prompts Fierce Debate Over Paid Sick Days

Under the civil service formula, Ford will receive a 5 percent increase in her pension for the unused sick days, postal spokesman Ed Moore told the Detroit Free Press.

Ford worked at Detroit's main post office on West Fort Street, where her job appropriately involved logging time cards and keeping attendance records.

The crowd at Ford's party hooted and applauded. She smiled and told them that she would miss them.

"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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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