September 24, 2009

Anti-Democratic Council 94 Rejects Governor's Offer

Marc Comtois

The ProJo reports on the decision by Council 94 to reject Governor Carcieri's cost-saving deal, while other unions approved it. The Journal quotes Council 94’s acting executive director Joseph Peckham as saying the 11 to 7 (or 6?) vote as “not even close.” Ooookay.

Peckham said he, Downey and Council 94 vice president Jonathan Braddock recommended a membership vote because “we believe[d] that it was the best that we could do under the circumstances.”

But the proposal went down 11 to 7, according to Ronald Bonsante, president of Local 2876, who was among the minority seeking a union-wide membership vote. “I think the members had a right to approve or reject it,” Bonsante said. “Now, [Carcieri is] definitely going to lay off.” (Another participant recalled only six yea votes.)

When asked what led to the defeat by the Council 94 leadership board, which represents about one-third of the state’s unionized workers, Peckham said: “The strong sense in the room was that state employees have given, and given, and given for the past two or three years, and they’ve given enough.”

“They have gone without pay. They have had pay cuts, because of the health-insurance increases in premiums. They have had their pensions reduced. We are in this like everyone else,” he said. “Most of our people are average working-class people who are trying to eke out a living.”

Ah, but the benevolent leaders didn't allow their average working-class members the chance to vote for themselves. As an anonymous commenter ("vito") to the ProJo story wrote:
[T]he definition of solidarity is we are willing to let the junior man go.
Ahh, brotherhood. The Council 94 leaders are all for democracy and leveling....except when they aren't. Instead, they're willing to play games with their own members livelihood for the sake of the greater union good.
But a number of Council 94 presidents, including the outspoken Salvatore Lombardi, said they would have voted for the deferred paydays this year and next had Carcieri not tried to attach what they considered a deal-breaker: a provision allowing him to move workers from agency to agency, union to union.

“This was supposed to be about saving money and furlough days. But they managed to slide in language about bargaining-unit rights and shifting people around which is more of a union-busting technique,” echoed Paul Levesque, an officer in Local 2876 representing a block of workers in the Department of Children, Youth & Families. “That’s how they bust unions, by splitting them up like that.”

Like there's a chance in hell of anyone "busting" a union in Rhode Island. Gimme a break. And how did they manage to "slide in" language while you were right there at the table? Look, I understand the paranoia that must be going on in the minds of the poor, besieged union bosses, but the idea of shifting people around to similar jobs in different departments--even if that means they'd be moving to different unions(UPDATE: According to Governor's rejected proposal, they would stay with their original unions)--would allow more people to stay employed in jobs for which they are already trained. Such flexibility would facilitate "bumping" by making it easier to place experienced employees where they're truly needed. But that would make too much sense.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

I wonder if "vito" would feel the same way if he was one of the 1,000. Or maybe for the strength and solidarity, he'll voluntarily resign his position and go find one in private industry.

Posted by: Patrick at September 24, 2009 10:02 AM

Patrick, I think "vito" was being sarcastic.

Posted by: Marc at September 24, 2009 10:59 AM

Union busting? Is that when private sector citizens line up on the sidewalks of union shops to pickit and stomp their feet because their low bid for those jobs was rejected? Or is it when a state has completely run out of money thanks to the unions and is broke, or “busted”. Oh, no, no, no, it’s when union members are subject to the same necessary workplace rules that 90% of the working people in society deal with every day. That’s it!

Posted by: Frank at September 24, 2009 4:17 PM

I'll repeat what I said on another thread for empahasis..

Laying off 1000 state employees can't be compared to the loss of productive, private sector jobs.

It's the bloated size of government that drives away the kind of jobs we really need in Rhode Island.

And add this for support:

Posted by: George at September 24, 2009 5:59 PM

Exactly right, Marc.

Anti-democratic for sure. What was leadership afraid of? Why weren't they willing to give fraternite a chance by allowing the membership to vote on the contract?

It became shockingly clear with this latest round that Governor Carcieri cares more about state workers than does the leadership of the union to which they belong.

Posted by: Monique at September 24, 2009 8:23 PM

I'm confused, how many "Presidents" does this union have, anyway? Why so many?

Posted by: Chris at September 25, 2009 12:34 PM


Chris, you're not saying they might be top-heavy, are you?

Posted by: Monique at September 25, 2009 1:56 PM
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