Labor Union Theft from Rhode Island Taxpayers


To build on Monique’s post earlier today, another mention of the front-page above-the-fold column by Mark Patinkin, from yesterday, is worthwhile.  It was an encouraging sight, in that it brought to readers’ attention the tip of an underground mass of taxpayer dollars that labor unions grab for themselves using state government.

As Patinkin explains, taxpayers are giving the union organization money to train people to take more money from taxpayers.  Unfortunately, Patinkin wasn’t able to find all of the Institute for Labor Studies and Research’s (ILSR’s) money from state government, so let me introduce him to the state’s transparency site.  Search 2015 for the institute, and you find $518,683 in state money from multiple agencies.  Leading the way is the Department of Education, which gave the ILSR $185,986 under the program, “administration of the comprehensive education,” mostly for “accelerating school performance,” but also (get this) for “fiscal integrity & efficiencies.”

Then there’s the $161,444 from the office of Public Higher Education, which is the community service grant described by Patinkin.  One detail Patinkin doesn’t explore is that Rhode Island technically has a single Board of Education, covering K-20, and who should be on the K-12 portion of the board but teacher union president Larry Purtill, who also happens to be listed as the secretary treasurer of ILSR, according to its 2014 filing with the IRS.

Next up, in 2015, was the Dept. of Labor and Training, which gave ILSR $158,239 under its “injured worker services” and “workforce development services” programs.  Of particular interest is a $17,075 grant from the Governor’s Workforce Board.  What makes this interesting is that George Nee, whom Patinkin names as the ILSR’s board chairman, is also on the the Governor’s Workforce Board.  Funny how that happens.  So far this year, Nee’s institute is up to $18,675 from Nee’s government board.

This is just the beginning of the connections that can be drawn between state officials and groups or individuals who receive taxpayer dollars, and as one unravels them, it becomes clearer and clearer that corruption like that of former Democrat Rep. Raymond Gallison is less an exception than it is the state government’s entire way of doing business.  At least Gallison had to be elected to gain and maintain power.

One can only hope columnists and reporters in the state won’t move away from this grimy thread once some other shiny object appears on the landscape.