September 21, 2007

Rearick Leads the Way (And Doesn't the Projo Have Access to Google?)

Justin Katz

Hot on the heels of the Tiverton teachers' union's unanimous vote to follow a moderated work-to-rule practice as a negotiating tactic, Schools Superintendent William Rearick has done the minimum that most bosses would do were employees to openly skip work for an expressly inappropriate reason:

The teachers’ union is balking at Schools Supt. William J. Rearick’s decision not to pay teachers for what he calls “the illegal job action” they took when they held a one-day strike on Sept. 4.

Reporter Meaghan Wims goes on to relay some automated ballerina spin from the NEA's Patrick Crowley:

In a letter Monday to Rearick, Patrick Crowley, assistant executive director of the National Education Association of Rhode Island, said the teachers are protected under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires salaried employees be paid a "predetermined amount" that is "not subject to reduction because of variations in the quantity or quality of the work performed."

Crowley said that Rearick’s decision could be interpreted to mean that the employees are now considered nonsalaried workers eligible for overtime pay.

If that's not Rearick's intention, Crowley writes, "it occurs to me that the withholding of pay is a willful violation under the federal statute and may subject the violator to criminal sanctions." The School Department, Crowley writes, could face up to $10,000 in fines for withholding teachers' pay.

"Please clarify your understanding of the exemption status for the workers in the NEA bargaining unit in order for the members to adequately calculate the overtime pay owed to them in time for the next pay roll period," Crowley writes. "If, however, the refusal to pay the teachers their agreed upon salary was inadvertent, we will work with you to remedy the situation as expeditiously as possible."

Leaving open the very real possibility that everybody else is better informed than I am, after a quick Google search of Crowley's legal quotation, it appears that he has been very selective in his review of the law (emphasis added):

a) An employee will be considered to be paid "on a salary basis'" within the meaning of the regulations if under his employment agreement he regularly receives each pay period on a weekly, or less frequent basis, a predetermined amount constituting all or part of his compensation, which amount is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of the work performed. Subject to the exceptions provided below, the employee must receive his full salary for any week in which he performs any work without regard to the number of days or hours worked. This policy is also subject to the general rule that an employee need not be paid for any workweek in which he performs no work.

(1) An employee will not be considered to be ``on a salary basis'' if deductions from his predetermined compensation are made for absences occasioned by the employer or by the operating requirements of the business. Accordingly, if the employee is ready, willing, and able to work, deductions may not be made for time when work is not available.

(2) Deductions may be made, however, when the employee absents himself from work for a day or more for personal reasons, other than sickness or accident. Thus, if an employee is absent for a day or longer to handle personal affairs, his salaried status will not be affected if deductions are made from his salary for such absences.

I'd argue that seeking to bully the school administration into assenting to an unaffordable contract should count as a "personal reason."

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Glad to see you are now the official spokesperson for the Tiverton School Committee, Jus. Are you their legal spokesperson too? Never knew "google" was the final word on legal analysis. Guess that explains a lot of the analysis on AR....

By the way, since they took $800k+ out of the salary and line item budget but increased the legal line item by 40+%, maybe you should ask for a cut?

Posted by: Pat Crowley at September 21, 2007 9:17 PM

Appears Pat takes some offense at being caught in a lie, even if only one of omission. Is Pat arguing that what is stated on the Dept. of Labor's website is incorrect?

Posted by: Will at September 21, 2007 9:38 PM

You miss the point, Pat. It's not that Google is the final word on the law; it's that your argument appears to be so specious that one need no more advanced tool than Google.

That you've apparently got nothing in your quiver but attempts at insults strongly suggests that appearances are correct.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 21, 2007 9:44 PM

Hardly, Will. I am arguing that the law has many other sections and decades of case law. Maybe Justin should cite my entire letter since he seems to have been forwarded a copy of it. He seems to have left out a few sections, including the case citations, the RELEVANT section of law, and the other sections cited.

If he doesn't. I'd be happy too.

And maybe he should cite his source since he has posted here before that he is an observer, not a journalist. How 'bout it Jus? Do you have a copy of the letter? Did you research all of it or just what you read in the paper?

Posted by: Pat Crowley at September 21, 2007 9:52 PM

Sorry to disappoint, Pat, but I'm not the sort to leave out parts of an argument to which I've no reply. I don't have a copy of the letter. The information in the Projo was sufficient to find the text that I quoted.

If there's more to it, I'd be interested to hear it.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 21, 2007 10:21 PM

Hey Pat,

Why don't you provide a link to the letter, or post it.

All of it.

We'd all love to see it!

Posted by: Tom W at September 21, 2007 10:23 PM

Don't hold your breath Tom. Pat is here to snipe, not to provide any data. I recall a line from the classic movie "Top Secret" starring Val Kilmer. I believe it does "...not worth a truckload of dead rats in a tampon factory..." and it pretty much sums up the value that Pat adds to any discussion. What disgusts me is that, because of the union hacks in the GA, I have to pay his pension when he retires.

Posted by: Greg at September 22, 2007 8:25 AM

>>Don't hold your breath Tom.

I'm not. Never was.

Sometimes merely to ask the question provides the answer (isn't there a saying along the lines of: "to ask the question is to answer it")?

Posted by: Tom W at September 22, 2007 9:24 AM


why would you have to pay my pension? Talk about misinformation... or maybe it is just making up your own version of reality. And talking about "union hacks" isn't sniping, huh?

I guess the dozens of corporate employees in the GA means nothing, right?

Posted by: Pat Crowley at September 22, 2007 9:53 AM

>>why would you have to pay my pension?

Yeah Greg! ;-)

You don't pay Pat's pension, except indirectly via the NEA members' dues that are deducted from their taxpayer provided paychecks.

Don't you remember Greg that the NEA did try to remedy this injustice and cut out the teacher dues "middleman" by getting its NEA hacks in the General Assembly (such as Jack Reed) to enact one of those infamous created in a back room / introduced and passed at midnight bills ... this one giving state pensions to teacher union officials that were employed by the union, not the State.

Then the Providence Journal had to ruin things by disclosing what occurred, and this created a PR nightmare for the General Assembly. Jack Reed, for example, had to claim that he didn't know what was in it when he voted for it (the usual Democrat "I'm not a crook, just incompetent" defense).

So then a court action was initiated to repeal this. The teachers unions went to court to fight this, of course using their members' dues to pay for the legal bills.

They lost. So for now paying for Pat's pension still has to be funneled through teachers' dues.

One person did make out on the above imbroglio. Ed McElroy of AFT lost "his" State pension, but apparently the power that be at AFT were so impressed that he had the chutzpah to help engineer such an outrageous backroom deal that they made him President of the national union!

BTW, while we're on the subject, that's YET ANOTHER thing for which we're STILL waiting for an answer from Walsh / Crowley / NEARI: who on the union side was behind engineering this deal, and who at the General Assembly was responsible for blessing it and introducing it?

After all, your members paid dues from their paychecks to fund the court fight to try to keep those unearned pensions in place for the union leadership, and many of them are reading this blog, so you as union officials have a fiduciary obligation to let your members know, and a moral obligation to let the taxpayers know.

Posted by: Tom W at September 22, 2007 1:57 PM
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