On Tuesday, four days after an incident at an East Greenwich restaurant, the NEA RI announced that Mr. Louis Rainone had … er, resigned his position as Secretary of that labor union. In the press release, they stated that Rainone
is not and has not been an employee of NEARI.
By that statement, the public was apparently supposed to conclude that Mr. Rainone had not been financially compensated by the union. Note the choice of words, however: not an “employee”. Well, an officer of an organization is not usually characterized as an “employee”. But that is certainly not the only framework for monetary compensation.
And, indeed, in an editorial in today’s Providence Journal that also took note of the NEA RI’s disclaimer
It also said Mr. Rainone is “not an employee of NEARI” and that he merely held an “elected position.”
we learn that Mr. Rainone
has, however, been paid by NEARI for service as its secretary.
Why did the NEA RI go out of its way to obfuscate this fact?
Observers of Rhode Island politics will remember Secretary Louis Rainone from several prior incidents. It was he who, pounding fist into hand, made a point of exchanging words with union critic Rep Jon Brien in August, 2011. This took place, of course, in the courthouse where – ya can’t make this stuff up – NEA RI representative John Leidecker was on trial for cyber-stalking another elected official and union critic, Doug Gablinske.
Prompted by the courthouse incident, an (apparently) unidentified observer described on WPRO’s website the questionable behavior of Mr. Rainone and other NEA RI representatives at an East Greenwich School Committee meeting in June, 2010, when the outsourcing of custodians was being contemplated. The observer noted that Mr. Rainone’s comments in particular were actually damaging to the employees that the NEA RI was representing.
But the “burn in hell” comment was a stark turn-off to many residents who previously supported the custodian’s cause.
Mr. Rainone can also be heard in this video clip braying at an EngageRI rally at the State House in October, 2011. In a liveblog back in February, 2009, Justin reported that “a unionist” (Justin identified him via e-mail as Mr. Louis Rainone) apparently started to disrupt a talk by the ProJo’s Ed Achorn but was shut down by the crowd.
Speaking of John Leidecker – paid attorney for the NEA RI – he was found guilty in September, 2011, of the crime of cyber-stalking union critic, Doug Gablinske. (WPRI had obtained the search warrant and published its contents. It outlines some of the harassment activity by the accused.) Such a conviction would have been grounds for termination at many (most?) companies and organizations. But far from being terminated by the NEA RI, Mr. Leidecker was actually rewarded with a promotion.
It is very difficult not to pity Rhode Island teachers who are compelled to be represented by a union where, when a union official/representative is convicted of or is very credibly charged with a crime, it is a complete toss-up whether that official will be asked to step down or will be rewarded with a promotion. Returning to the ProJo’s editorial of today,
It is not clear that the departure of Mr. Rainone is a sign that the organization intends to encourage civil behavior by its officials from now on, but it is a welcome start. Mr. Leidecker, meanwhile, remains in his high-paid job.
Ah, but while Mr. Rainone’s case was inexplicably handled quite differently than Mr. Leidecker’s, perhaps Mr. Rainone can derive some comfort in the fact that his spirit will live on with the NEA RI, inasmuch as the union had previously named their “Union Spirit Award” after him. H/T Mike Antonucci at the Education Intelligence Agency (EIA), who elaborates.
Louis Rainone is the elected secretary of NEA Rhode Island and is so beloved the association named the “NEARI Louis Rainone ESP Union Spirit Award” after him, to be bestowed upon a member who “exhibits great union advocacy and association involvement.”
[Monique is Editor of the RI Taxpayer Times newsletter. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the organization.]