Gio Is Not Looking For The Union Label
Last week, certain leaders of organized labor in Rhode Island called for the resignation of the Chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party, Giovanni Cicione. They referred to his “insensitive and hurtful statement” about the Governor’s proposed layoff of 1,000 state workers, his use of the term “poverty pimps” and his “remarks equating unions with racism”.
In yesterday’s Providence Journal, Cicione declined the suggestion that he step aside and instead elaborated on some of his comments in a manner not likely to abate the ire of union leaders.
Every time we keep a position that we no longer need, cave in to a union work rule, or create a new benefit we cannot afford, we are potentially taking money from anti-poverty programs, from roads and bridges, from local schools, and from our own pockets.
Many state employees know better and are embarrassed and angered by a system that created “protected” coworkers who fail to carry their weight. They know that the system protects unproductive workers, and rewards length of service over quality performance.
They know that this is not the best model for our state, and I ask them to support efforts to improve efficiency of state services.
As to “union work rules”, in August, Director of the Department of Administration Beverly E. Najarian cited the costly inefficiencies built into public employee contracts, including restrictions on who can fill the temporary absence of a state employee.
Some of this stuff is really, really very costly, very onerous … When I first came here, all of these rules seemed so foreign to me. If you would look at other unions in the private sector, you would not find these things. They are all detrimental to the efficiency and management of any operation.
In the same article, MHRH Director Ellen R. Nelson points to a provision in the contract for the conduct of union business on the taxpayer dime.
Union officials who also work for the state can be scheduled for weeks off, with pay, to handle union-related duties, such as meeting with other workers. But those union officials can also put in for extra shifts that week and be paid overtime, at the same time the state may be paying someone else overtime to cover the union official’s regular shift.
Nelson did not offer a solution, saying she wants to hear suggestions from the unions.
Further to his comment last week that unions demonstrate “the last vestige of institutional racism in this country”, Cicione asks:
[Sidebar: Cranston Fire Chief Richard Delgado does not deny the absence of female and minority firefighters in the department but does deny that their absence arises out of union rules, asserting instead that the department “can’t get” such applicants.] Cicione points out in his OpEd that
Why does the Fire Department of the City of Cranston have 200-plus white male firefighters — no women, no minorities? Why do minority contractors need a state agency to give them access to union-controlled public-works projects? Why do minority contractors struggle to meet union-imposed bonding, apprenticeship, and benefits requirements?
Is it, perhaps, that the labor laws are rigged to protect the status quo? …
The Republican Party was formed 150 years ago for the express propose of ending slavery, a cause for which the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, died. Today we continue the fight by working to break down barriers that repress minorities in a cycle of poverty and by pushing for the elimination of all the “special deals” that overwhelmingly favor those who are part of the Democratic-union establishment at the expense of the general interest, including thousands of struggling small businesses
and concludes by speaking directly to unionized public employees throughout the state.
So to the membership of those unions, I have a message — and it is one I will repeat again and again: The labor movement has become the most offensive special interest in Rhode Island history.
It is time for union members to restore your pride, restore your hope, and restore this state. Take charge and create radical change. The union boss needs you. You don’t need him.