December 16, 2012

For the Kids or For the Money?

Patrick Laverty

First of all, if you do a job for an agreed-upon price, you should get paid for doing the job. However, I think the coaches at East Providence High School are handling this the wrong way.

In Saturday's Providence Journal was a story about the EP varsity sports coaches walking out on the kids due to non-payment, plus a game got postponed because the coach refused to attend.

Unpaid the $2,800 he earned for coaching the East Providence girls to the Division I volleyball final last month and expected to take a 60-percent cut in the $3,800 he is supposed to earn for coaching Townies boys basketball this winter, Alex Butler on Friday said enough is enough.
Butler initiated a walkout by coaches of winter sports teams after he and the other coaches of fall sports did not receive checks on Friday, as they were promised.
As a result, Friday night’s EP-Bishop Hendricken basketball game was postponed.
If I was a player on the team, I'd be absolutely irate. The coaches deciding they're not going to show up to work anymore? Postponing or canceling games? I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the Hendricken coach and athletic director were to demand that the game be declared a forfeit. It was a scheduled game, weather wasn't a factor, it was simply that the EP team refused to show up. That's a slam-dunk forfeit.

This isn't the East Providence school administration who hasn't paid the coaches, it is the state-appointed Budget Commission.

[T]he checks for the fall coaches had been withdrawn by the Budget Commission, Butler said. He added that Val Lawson, head of the East Providence teachers’ union, received word from the city finance director — Malcolm Moore holds that title, according the city website — and passed it on to Paul Amaral, the athletics director. In addition to not paying the fall coaches, Butler said the Budget Commission wants coaches of winter sports to take a 60 percent pay cut.
Ok, that is just wrong. If you're going to do something like this, let the coaches know so they can decide what to do.

However, this statement troubles me as well:

“If they take 60-percent from my boys basketball salary, I figured I would get paid $4.50 an hour,” Butler said.
That sounds like he's doing this for the money. No coach is paid any amount that realistically compensates them for the amount of time they spend with their players. The payment is often not much more than a sign of appreciation. The coach was slated to earn $3,800 for the season, clearly not that much money, but again, no one should be doing this job for the money.

I coached a high school hockey team and though I knew I was getting paid, I sure wasn't doing it for the money. When the check arrived, it was nice to get, but it sure wasn't what drove me. Plus, I made less than half what Coach Butler was supposed to earn this season.

Bottom line, I agree with the coaches' frustration. However, I just wish they could find another way to show that frustration. To take this out on the kids is just the wrong answer. Canceling games on the kids is the wrong solution. Hopefully the coaches will be back for their teams' next game.

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The state-appointed Budget Commission set a payment day for the coaches Nov. 10 and Nov. 22 according to the PROJO newspaper article. It is more than (9) nine days pass the agreed upon pay period

According to the PROJO article the Budget Commission did not inform the coaches they would not be paid in violation of state law.

I feel the coaches are justified walking off the job and hope they sue the pants off of RI.

Labor and Labor Relations
Payment of Wages
SECTION 28-14-2

§ 28-14-2 Payment of wages – Form of payment – Establishment of regular paydays. – Every employer shall establish a regular payday on which wages shall be paid in full in lawful money of the United States, or checks on banks convertible into cash on demand at full face value. Each employee must be notified in writing, or by posted notice that may readily be seen by all employees, of a change in the scheduled payday at least three (3) paydays in advance of a scheduled change. Each scheduled payday shall fall within nine (9) days of the end of the payroll period for which wages are computed unless prevented by inevitable casualty; provided, that if the ninth (9th) day is a holiday, payment upon the next business day shall be deemed a compliance with the terms of this section; and provided, further, that if at any time of payment any employee is absent from his or her place of labor, he or she shall be entitled to payment on demand at any time thereafter.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1977, ch. 223, § 2.)

Posted by: KenW at December 17, 2012 1:45 AM

$3000-4000 dollars is a lot of money to some people, especially around this time of year. It's a bit callous to categorically say that it is not. They may very well need the money to the extent that they would take another job but decided to throw in some extra hours for the kids. Withholding the money is even more rotten in such underpaid situations where one side is already giving more than they are getting.

Having said that, if you do any work for a state government or our Federal government, you should understand that "you'll get paid when you get paid" is something you're going to hear often. An agency has owed me approximately $6,000 for the past four months. They have no excuse except incompetence. Dealing with lazy, overpaid, abusive government HR/budget desk personnel who act like you're unreasonable asking for money you're owed can be maddening, so my heart goes out to the coaches in that regard, but nine days overdue is nothing to make such a big fuss over in this context. My SO consults for local schools - public and private - and if she was paid only nine days overdue on average, that would be a cause for celebration. Two to three weeks overdue is typical for such bureaucracies.

Posted by: Dan at December 17, 2012 7:46 AM

Dan, You're right that $3,000-4,000 is a lot of money in itself. My statement that it's not is in the context of the amount of hours they put in to earn that much money. So when you're making as little per hour as the coach indicates, then it's not a whole lot of money and you're not doing it for the money, you're doing it because you enjoy coaching and there happens to be a stipend attached.

Posted by: Patrick at December 17, 2012 8:41 AM

But it's all about the children right??? This is high school sports not the NCAA and certainly not the pros. I sympathize with their frustration but what exactly were they looking to accomplish by walking off? How about making a sacrifice for the kids and keep up the fight with the city. They could easily take a pass next season if it can't be resolved.

Posted by: Max D at December 17, 2012 3:17 PM

MaxD, that you can't understand "what exactly were they" (the coaches) "looking to accomplish by walking off" is the heart of the problem, and it lies with you, not the coaches.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at December 18, 2012 8:44 AM

OTL - Something I find admirable about this blog is its contributors and most of its commenters don't adopt the intellectually lazy practice of treating workers and employers as disparate and homogeneous classes of people. An honest treatment recognizes that the relationship is complex and highly dependent upon individual circumstances. Compare Patrick's article with the cranked-out partisan drivel of a blog such as RIFuture where the employer is always and categorically wrong and worker malfeasance is routinely ignored or excused. I understand that you have come to view everything as a microcosm of the universal Marxist class struggle - and you have clearly chosen your "side" in that framework - but some of us try for a more nuanced approach with some shades of grey in it. Give credit where credit is due.

Posted by: Dan at December 18, 2012 9:14 AM


My apologies for deceiving you with my comments. In reality, they accomplished exactly what they set out to... proving they're only in it for the money. Thanks for setting me straight.

Posted by: Max D. at December 18, 2012 9:17 AM

So whatever job a person does and loves they should do so without pay, especially around the Christmas season. Would a carpenter please come to my house I have some things in need of repair. I will pay you when I can or maybe I won't. Who out there is willing to work for free.

Posted by: rufus t at December 18, 2012 10:30 AM

"So whatever job a person does and loves they should do so without pay, especially around the Christmas season."

Typical dumbass response. For some of us who coached for years for free it's a no brainer. You don't abandon the kids once the season has started. If he doesn't want to coach next year or next season, more power to him.

Posted by: Max D at December 18, 2012 10:52 AM

Guess what it worked they got paid. Maybe the coaches also felt that instead of coaching for free they could spend time with their own families or get another job that actually paid. or maybe they had christmas bills to pay and really wanted the money. Regardless the dumbass thing to do would be to just sit back and take it. Would a carpernter, computer programmer,lawyer, or writer do the work they were contrated for for free because they loved it. I doubt it.

Posted by: rufus t at December 18, 2012 11:44 AM

No one here advocated that they just sit back and take it and to put a part time high school coaching job in the same category as your career examples is ridiculous. Good for the kids.

Posted by: Max D at December 18, 2012 9:36 PM

So Max D only people who really need the money and only people not getting paid for full time work should complain or take actions.By the way they got paid and can go back to work. Do you work for free, would you build a deck or repair a car for someone who still owes you from the last job you did for them. and thanks for sinking to the level of name calling, very mature.

Posted by: rufus t at December 18, 2012 10:37 PM
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