Chariho School Parents’ Forum

October 6, 2007

NEA complaint continued

Filed under: contract negotiations,Unions — Editor @ 4:06 pm

Pete Gingras, lead negotiator for the NEA-RI support personnel contract negotiations filed a complaint against the Chariho School Committee and named me specifically.  The complaint was filed with the Labor Relations Board and Mr. Gingras asked that it immediately be put in abeyance – which means the LRB doesn’t even look at it, they just put it in a drawer.  According to Mr. Gingras, the abeyance was requested so that he and I could resolve the situation. 

According to Labor Relations Board General Rules and Regulations –   9.01.3 Contents of Charge:
A charge shall contain:
5) A summary of the basis for the charge; including, where known, the approximate dates and places of the alleged acts, and the names of the respondent’s agents, or other representatives by whom the acts were committed. In the event it is alleged that an employee or employees have been discharged, refused employment or suffered discrimination in violation of the Act, the name or names of such employees;

However, no documentation was provided with this complaint.  On September 28, I wrote Mr. Gingras asking for documentation of the alleged violation.  On October 1, he reused saying, “It is not my intention to provide disclosure of my proofs.” (file here – from-nea-pg-no-profs.doc)

When Mr. Gingras contacted the Westerly Sun on September 20th, he said that the complaint was based on content from this blog.  Since there is a record of the alleged violation, and Mr. Gingras put the complaint in abeyance so we could resolve the issue, isn’t it unusual that he would not want to tell me what the complaint is about.

This complaint has already had an impact on the contract negotiations in one of the decisions we had to make – I hope it does not turn out to be a negative impact.

I have written to the LRB requesting a resolution.



  1. He files a complaint without specifying what he is complaining about? Very strange behavior. You mention that the complaint has already impacted negotiations. I hope he isn’t using the complaint as a tool to eradicate an obstacle on the committee?

    I know you can’5 tell us about the negotiations, but are negotiations something you’ll be able to discuss in the future? I think it would be valuable for those of us paying the bills to have an understanding of how the unions try to get more and more of our money.

    Continued good luck in the negotiations. Mr. Petit indicates the entire committee is committed to controlling spending, this will be a good first test. The next teacher’s contract will be the best test.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 6, 2007 @ 10:29 pm | Reply

  2. I was wondering if it was true that Mr. Felkner used to be a teacher. Also, that his wife is currently one. I am sure that he used the support staff while he was employed as a teacher. And I am almost positive that his wife must use them as well. Do they not feel that the ESP are worth the support they give? I can only hope that his wife works for this district so when the teachers contracts come up for negotiations maybe she will get less than what she really desreves. Then maybe they will feel a pinch in their own home, financially of course.

    Comment by DOGLVR2000 — October 10, 2007 @ 11:29 am | Reply

  3. I was not a teacher (but did make the mistake of taking a union job once many many years ago) but my wife is in the NEA employed at a different district. I do not speak for her. But I will say that I did not support the NEA in her district when it asked for unreasonable benefits and pay increases.

    However, your comments are off topic. No one is speaking about the value of ones work (or ability to do it). We are talking about treating public sector employees the same as private sector employees. Private sector workers (the vast majority of taxpayers – although a lower percentage in RI than most other states) do not get nearly the same benefits as do public sector employees.

    Private sector workers never get paid not to take insurance. Public sectors do. Private sector workers copay their insurance an average of 25-30%, public sectors fight against any copays. Private sector workers earn their raises and must perform to keep their jobs. Public sector workers never operate with merit pay, nor can they be fired for incompetence (see previous posts describing the impossibility of firing an incompetent employee). Private sector employees, unless they are paid on commission, never get double digit raises (or anywhere near the 12-16% raise some of the support personnel got in the last contract). If I was in the union, I would be outraged that raises that size were given out not based on ability or hard work but based simply on some convoluted formula derived in contract negotiations. I would prefer to control my own destiny.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — October 10, 2007 @ 12:34 pm | Reply

  4. PS. Besides, you are missing the point of the post. The NEA filed a complaint against me because of something I said on this blog. But Mr. Gingras refused to provide “proofs” to me or the LRB. Why?

    If he really thought I did something wrong, wouldn’t he want to make it public?

    Comment by Bill Felkner — October 10, 2007 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

  5. I love how every one keeps saying “we pay the bills” “our money”, hello, your support staff pays the bills as well. Yes believe it or not WE are taxpayers too! IN THIS DISTRICT.

    Comment by concerned parent — October 10, 2007 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

  6. I assume the whole “we pay the bills” holds more wait for non-support members, because they’re not the ones getting the benefits FROM the bills.

    Just a hunch.

    Comment by Annonoymous Student — October 10, 2007 @ 7:30 pm | Reply

  7. Sure thing…I’ll agree to pay more taxes when the teachers and support staff agree to give me 6 to 10% raises, full insurance, and a retirement pension from their income. Won’t bother me to pay a too much in taxes when I get even more in return.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 10, 2007 @ 8:28 pm | Reply

  8. The difficulty, I think, between private and public finances is that the private sector can only ‘give’ raises, insurance, 401K’s or pensions (etc) if the company is itself profitable and therefore able to afford these wages and benefits. The public sector is, by definition, effectively ‘non-profit’. Therefore all wages and benefits must be gleaned by the community as a whole by being or becoming more profitable.

    This ‘profitability of the community’ is hard to determine – it cannot be determined simply by the cost of living, sale of houses, average salaries, etc, but a vary complex compilation of all these factors. Therefore negotiation occurs to justify the elements each bring to the table. It’s very difficult and I don’t envy the School Board their efforts to keep spending in line.

    What is not as difficult is the final result of the work done. Is the community protected? Are the roads repaired? Do the buses run on time? Are students national test scores improving? Are classrooms clean? Is the grass mowed? Meritorious work deserves meritorious pay. Incompetence demeans everyone’s work and protecting it can undermine everything a worker strives to do for his family. Respect is earned – a good teacher, a favourite custodian, a listening guidance counselor — this is of value to the community and should be compensated. A slacker, a burn-out, an arrogant counselor should be fired.

    It’s really not that hard. Common sense may not be common, but it certainly survives in unusual places and rears its head at the most inopportune times.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — October 10, 2007 @ 9:15 pm | Reply

  9. Very well said – It is too bad that all to often the all or nothing approach is used. Common sense seems to be lost. Reward those who deserve it and get rid of those slackers for the childrens sake or they will use them as role models.

    Comment by A's Mom — October 12, 2007 @ 9:11 am | Reply

  10. Good point A’s Mom.

    It is interesting to me how often people don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ but without questions and critiques we can’t or don’t improve. If everyone was calm and dispassionate nothing of great worth would be done and no student would know the pleasure of changing, if not the world, at least their world. Give me passionate concern any day over the ‘go along, get along’ option.

    Those leaders would be really good role models for a vibrant democracy.

    Comment by BarbaraC — October 12, 2007 @ 5:17 pm | Reply

  11. […] and speaking of contacts – the NEA has said they will move forward with the complaint against me- another yippee!  Can’t wait to see what they say I did wrong.   Superintendent Ricci […]

    Pingback by back online « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — January 10, 2008 @ 4:09 pm | Reply

  12. […]   Felkner’s comments will cost school district   By JAMES MADDEN  WOOD RIVER JCT. – Information provided by Chariho School Committee member Bill Felkner on his website “Chariho School Parents’ Forum” may cost the Chariho School District hundreds of dollars in legal fees.  “It will cost the school district,” said Chariho School Superintendent Barry Ricci at last week’s School Committee meeting.   Last September, Peter Gingras – the lead negotiator of Chariho’s 164-member support-personnel union – filed a complaint with the Rhode Island State Labor Relation Board against the Chariho School Committee. Gingras – who works for the National Education Association/Rhode Island (NEA) – alleged that Felkner illegally negotiated with the union, on an individual basis, by posting information on his website on the union’s previous pay raises and benefits. Contract negotiations between the school committee and union came to a conclusion two months ago when a new deal was struck between the two parties.  Gingras’ complaint states that, “On or about Sept. 17, 2007, and on dates thereafter, an agent of the Chariho Regional School District has purposely attempted to communicate directly with bargaining unit members directly represented by the union. The purpose of these communications was to discourage union membership and is tantamount to a refusal to bargain with the certified representative of the union.” After the complaint was filed, the labor relations board put the complaint in abeyance, but Ricci said the complaint is going to be heard by the labor relations board.  As a result, the School Committee voted 5-2-1 to ask Felkner – who was not at the school committee meeting – to put a disclaimer on his website indicating that his personal views are not representative of the school committee as a whole.  Richmond School Committee member Terri Serra made the motion and said, “I heard there was a disclaimer on this website. I have not been able to find it.” Charlestown School Committee member Giancarlo Cicchetti said, “I don’t think that as a School Committee we have any power over Mr. Felkner… We can’t instruct him to do anything.”   Ricci said the school district will have to pay its solicitor $135 per hour to represent the school district in this matter. He said the case could last a day, or weeks.  Felkner said Gingras is required to explain how the posting of information on his website was equivalent to negotiating directly with the union. Felkner said Gingras hasn’t yet explained this to the school committee or the labor relations board.  “I still haven’t been notified as to what the complaint is,” Felkner said. Consequently, Felkner said that it’s unnecessary for the school district to litigate until Gingras comes forward with a specific complaint.   Ricci said, “I believe he [Gingras] has given partial explanation,” to the labor relations board.    In other business: Bond The school committee again supported a revote of the $26 million Chariho bond to renovate and improve the Switch Road campus.  The school committee specified that they would support either a two-way or three-way split bond.    Chariho ActThe school committee voted for the tri-town solicitors to review the newly drafted Chariho Act.  “This has been an incredibly complicated process taking into account 22 years of amendments and changes,” said Ricci.  Let unresolved at the meeting was who will pay the legal fees for the town solicitors to review the act?  The school district is hoping it’s going to be the towns.   Splitting the Bond Ricci indicated that the Chariho Building Committee, who were the architects behind the recent Chariho bond building plans, are going to have a say in how the bond is split, if that happens.  Chariho School Committee Chairman Bill Day also said, “I think the school committee should be involved in how this bond will be broken down.” [UPDATE] Mr. Ricci has informed me that Mr. Gingras has presented some information to the LRB but I still have not seen anything.  I’ll make sure to share it when I get it.  It is odd that the complaint was placed in abeyance so as to allow us time to resolve the problem, but Mr. Gingras would not tell me what he objected to, so we couldn’t work on anything.  When I asked for the information – he refused to provide it. […]

    Pingback by NEA complaint continued (part 2) « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — February 1, 2008 @ 5:27 pm | Reply

  13. […] local NEA rep, Pete Gingras.  He posts crude comments on this website and has also filed a “slap” complaint with the Labor Relations Board about this blog.  And, of course, Ricci falls right into line by telling a reporter that I will be […]

    Pingback by NEA to the taxpayers, “F*** You” « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — February 10, 2008 @ 1:59 pm | Reply

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