Rearick Leads the Way (And Doesn’t the Projo Have Access to Google?)
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.”