August 14, 2012

The Joys of Arbitration and Unionized Public Employment: "Fired DPW worker accused of theft gets job back"

Monique Chartier

Ah, yes. And they wonder why many of us are wary of binding arbitration.

A Department of Public Works employee who was fired after being arrested on charges he stole from the city, has won the fight to get his job back and will receive approximately nine months in back pay.

Kenneth Naylor, 48, of West Warwick – a 13-year employee of the Warwick DPW – was terminated in October after his arrest on a larceny charge a month earlier.

The head of the union that represents Naylor said an arbitrator ruled the city should not have fired Naylor because officials had already come to an agreement with the city to suspend him for 20 days without pay. The ruling came down on Aug. 7.

Good work, WPRI's Tim White. H/T the Matt Allen Show.

Mr. Naylor's criminal case is pending. Meanwhile, what will he get from the arbitrator's decision?

[President of Council 94 J. Michael] Downey said he doesn't know how much money Naylor will be paid following the arbitrator's decision but it will cover from the time he was terminated in October 2011 to today, minus the 20-day suspension.

According to a statement from Mayor Scott Avedisian, the city is still calculating how much money they will have to repay Naylor. Records show he made $48,215 in 2011.

So, roughly $36,000. Nice! Should help with the legal fees.

The next question is, what happens to his employment situation if he is found guilty? Will he get back the job he had with the employer from whom he was allegedly stealing?


Dan's comment reminded me of this recent instance of not just licking the trough clean but trying to take a bite out of it.

Six months after an arbitrator ruled that a retired town police officer should not have to pay anything for his medical coverage in his new job as a firefighter, Mayor Charles Lombardi has "reluctantly" paid what the town owes the worker in back payments. ...

In February of 2011, Cardarelli filed a grievance through the Fraternal Order of Police, Local 13, because he objected to paying $16.92 a week for his medical insurance premium, a total of $880 a year.

The arbitrator ruled on Feb. 9 of this year that the town violated the police contract by failing to reimburse Cardarelli for contributions made to the cost of his health insurance. Town officials were subsequently directed to make Cardarelli "whole" for his health insurance payments from the date of the union's demand for arbitration, Feb. 14, 2011, and to reimburse him monthly henceforth for the amounts of his contribution to his health care coverage.

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.

No surprise here. This is how virtually every termination case is resolved in arbitration. The arbitrator selection process ensures that decisions always come down in the middle or the arbitrator never works again. When an employee was fired, even for gross misconduct, the middle road is reinstatement. The absurd result is that no public union employee can ever be fired.

Posted by: Dan at August 14, 2012 8:00 PM

And the government pays for.........oops I mean the taxpayers foot the bill again. No worries. Soon there will be no private sector in RI to pay taxes.

Posted by: ANTHONY at August 14, 2012 9:20 PM

Monique, you are not addressing the larger issue. Will the City discipline Personnel Director Oscar Sheltom for causing this? He suspends Mr. Naylor for 30 days and when the story is picked up by the media then decides to fire him. Naylor was punished twice...that's why he got his job back and it is Oscar Shelton's fault!!! If he had just fired Naylor from the beginning, like he should have, Naylor would not have won. When will people realize that Shelton is a horrible personnel manager? The man needs to be forced to retire.

Posted by: Missing the real story at August 15, 2012 6:47 AM

"If he had just fired Naylor from the beginning, like he should have, Naylor would not have won."

I'm not sure you realize how this arbitration thing works in practice. It is a retention device of organized labor. See my first comment. In addition to the controlling financial and status incentives that lead an arbitrator to "split the baby" in nearly every case (which nearly always favors labor), the American Arbitration Association has a central tenet called "progressive discipline," which essentially means that a worker needs multiple warnings and opportunities for redemption before he can be properly fired. The suspension period may have been longer in the scenario you describe, but there is little doubt he would have been reinstated.

Posted by: Dan at August 15, 2012 7:52 AM

I have to disagree, Dan. Forgetting for a moment Naylors case, in general the concept of progressive discipline is a fair, reasonable one. In the case of gross misconduct such as what Naylor is accused of I don't see him being reinstated. In my time in the public sector I have seen numerous employees terminated. The perception is that it is impossible to be fired from a public job but that's just because the vast majority of terminations don't result in such spicy stories. Target 12 doesn't run a story every time a public employee is terminated for chronic lateness. Undoubtedly however, the case of the NP police officer/firefighter is a disgusting one. You would be hard pressed to find too many union workers would wouldn't look at his greed with great contempt.

Posted by: Rich at August 19, 2012 12:56 AM

To clarify, I don't see him having been reinstated had the city not erred in administering his discipline.

Posted by: Rich at August 19, 2012 12:58 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.