June 15, 2011

A Glimpse Behind the Union Curtain

Justin Katz

We've all made such mistakes as the Internet allows... replying too quickly for rationality to assert itself, sending mail to the wrong person, accidentally forwarding a conversation thread to parties with whom we shouldn't share them. When RI AFL-CIO President George Nee accidentally replied to an email by Providence Journal columnist Ed Achorn that he appears to have intended to forwarded to somebody else, however, he gave us a glimpse of labor's backroom exchanges.

Achorn had expanded his inquiry into the matter of Senate Majority Leader Dominique Ruggerio's hiring of Stephen Iannazzi, a union colleague's college-dropout son, at $90,000 per year to include Nee, and subsequently received the following reply:

the man has little to do with his time, i will not reply or speak to him, you can send this to marl if it helps but it doesn't appear that they can back him off, great reporter he just figured out i am the chair of the baord

"Backing off" may refer to a threatening email that Achorn mentions earlier in the column, or perhaps it refers to some other strategy. After all, Achorn's long been a target of the local labor hierarchy, which sends minions to disrupt his public speeches and such.

Whatever the case, it's surprising that the entrenched union powers would allow the cracks to begin showing over such a minor matter as a near-nepotistic job swapping, especially at a time when the spotlight is already on the unsustainability of their sweet pension deals. Even a mild inquiry into union-backed scholarships that Iannazzi had received from the Rhode Island Institute for Labor Studies begins to reveal the deeper game: The Institute's executive director, Robert Delaney ($113,822 total compensation, plus benefits), comes into the public eye by refusing to answer Achorn's basic questions and brings with him Carolina Bernal, who also works for the Institute and whom Governor Chafee appointed to his newly labor-friendly Board of Regents for Elementary Secondary Education.

That dot connects to Board of Regents member Colleen Callahan, who would be Mrs. Delaney if she'd taken her husband's name and who works for the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and health Professionals, taking home $183,971, plus benefits.

An interesting task for somebody with the time (which would be me were I able to make a full-time job of Anchor Rising) would be to create a chart of the various union positions and their associated salaries, as well as the personal links of the people who hold them. Such a resource might shed some light on the environment in which young Iannazzi procured his job and why powerful union leaders might want to back people away from the house of cards, lest they breathe a bit too heavily on it.

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Ooooooooooo....Ed's must be so askared. Hilarious! These union pigs are actors in a really really bad B movie. And then you throw in that horribly obvious rug wearing nutjob Patrick Wharfy Conley who is inducting Mass native Georgie Piglet into the RI Heritage HOF.
Ya just can't make this stuff up.
The only people intimidated by Larry, Mo and Curley are the mindless union dolts who they supposedly work for and the equally weak-kneed dolts in the Gen Ass.

Posted by: Tim at June 15, 2011 7:35 AM

This may be a case of where Government resembles the private sector,and that is something promoted on this site endlessly. I remember working for a company that distributed industrial supplies to RI and Southeastern Mass factories in the 70's as one of their three drivers. In the beginning of the second summer of my employment I was assigned a helper who happened to be the son of the mostly absent owner. Skip seemed to be a fairly pleasant young man heading to college in the fall eager to help as we visited all the industrial hot spots of southern New England. Our pairing made some sense as my age was much closer to Skip's than that of the other two drivers. Big Al certainly did not want the extra baggage nor did he really need much help with his light route which always ended at the hospitality room in the Narragansett Brewery. The other driver was clearly upset at not having the chance to have time with Skip and ingratiate himself with the owner. Skip didn't work there too long that summer. After the incident of the marijuana roach left in one the company's cars ashtray after Skip had taken it to be washed Skip ended up in Key West marlin fishing with Dad for the rest of the summer. I ended up being fired for unspecified reasons a few months later but I always thought that it had something to do with Skip. I left there and never looked back but now I'll admit when I hear of charges of nepotism I do think back to those days.

Posted by: Phil at June 15, 2011 8:30 AM

There are certainly companies out there that resemble government, Phil. I worked for one of them that manufacturers jet engines (that should narrow it down). The difference is that such companies do eventually become uncompetitive and lose money, forcing them to change or go bankrupt. Or in the case of my former employer, be perpetually propped up by billion-dollar no-bid military contracts from the federal government. The employees figure out fairly quickly which big government projects they can bill to fill the recurring "gaps" in their timesheets. My coworker and I used to count the number of sleeping union employees on our drive to the mailroom.

Posted by: Dan at June 15, 2011 9:08 AM

ProJo Headline :"Bill would let RI workers get paid twice for same injury".

See fellow RI'ers no matter how bad it gets the unions and their crony lawyers never sleep. They are constantly trying to fleece the private sector taxpayers. The state is doomed for bankruptcy. Gina is trying but she eventually will be ground down and accept the fact that there is no saving this beautiful corrupt plot of land.

Posted by: ANTHONY at June 15, 2011 11:25 PM

Based on Phil's posting history, I can think of many reasons he might have been fired, none having to do with Skip.

Besides, it's entirely different in private industry. The mostly absent owner has the right to spend his money any way he wants. In fact, due to our crazy tax laws, it might be highly efficient to put family members on the payroll as a means of distributing income at lower tax brackets. But here we are talking about spending the money that other people have trusted to these corruptocrats, whether union dues or taxpayer funds. That makes it entirely different as a moral issue.

Posted by: BobN at June 16, 2011 6:14 AM

Based on Phil's posting history, I can think of many reasons he might have been fired, none having to do with Skip.


One of the reasons may have been the company's reluctance to lay off the worker with the least seniority in a restructuring plan to avoid paying the price for doing so. Being fired worked out to being a positive thing for me in the long run, allowing me to move in a direction where I would not have to work for or with people like yourself.

Posted by: Phil at June 17, 2011 6:31 AM

But in your original post you pointedly accused the owner of firing you because you knew about Skip. You can climb down from your false accusation, but that doesn't excuse your original dishonesty.

Fortunately, Phil, it's a big world, and there is no reason to expect that we will meet outside of this forum. I wouldn't care either way.

Posted by: BobN at June 17, 2011 8:33 AM
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