A Glimpse Behind the Union Curtain
We’ve all made such mistakes as the Internet allows… replying too quickly for rationality to assert itself, sending mail to the wrong person, accidentally forwarding a conversation thread to parties with whom we shouldn’t share them. When RI AFL-CIO President George Nee accidentally replied to an email by Providence Journal columnist Ed Achorn that he appears to have intended to forwarded to somebody else, however, he gave us a glimpse of labor’s backroom exchanges.
Achorn had expanded his inquiry into the matter of Senate Majority Leader Dominique Ruggerio’s hiring of Stephen Iannazzi, a union colleague’s college-dropout son, at $90,000 per year to include Nee, and subsequently received the following reply:
the man has little to do with his time, i will not reply or speak to him, you can send this to marl if it helps but it doesn’t appear that they can back him off, great reporter he just figured out i am the chair of the baord
“Backing off” may refer to a threatening email that Achorn mentions earlier in the column, or perhaps it refers to some other strategy. After all, Achorn’s long been a target of the local labor hierarchy, which sends minions to disrupt his public speeches and such.
Whatever the case, it’s surprising that the entrenched union powers would allow the cracks to begin showing over such a minor matter as a near-nepotistic job swapping, especially at a time when the spotlight is already on the unsustainability of their sweet pension deals. Even a mild inquiry into union-backed scholarships that Iannazzi had received from the Rhode Island Institute for Labor Studies begins to reveal the deeper game: The Institute’s executive director, Robert Delaney ($113,822 total compensation, plus benefits), comes into the public eye by refusing to answer Achorn’s basic questions and brings with him Carolina Bernal, who also works for the Institute and whom Governor Chafee appointed to his newly labor-friendly Board of Regents for Elementary Secondary Education.
That dot connects to Board of Regents member Colleen Callahan, who would be Mrs. Delaney if she’d taken her husband’s name and who works for the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and health Professionals, taking home $183,971, plus benefits.
An interesting task for somebody with the time (which would be me were I able to make a full-time job of Anchor Rising) would be to create a chart of the various union positions and their associated salaries, as well as the personal links of the people who hold them. Such a resource might shed some light on the environment in which young Iannazzi procured his job and why powerful union leaders might want to back people away from the house of cards, lest they breathe a bit too heavily on it.