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News Release 8.28.12

News Release 8.27.12


August 21, 2012

Dear NEARI Member,

North Kingstown’s public employees need your help!

Too frequently self-serving politicians put their political careers ahead of the public good with the shameful result that dedicated workers and their families suffer. For what purpose? To placate a minority that has no regard for either public workers or public employment.

Such is the case with both the North Kingstown Town Council and the North Kingstown School Committee. Singing off the same sheet of music they reject good faith bargaining, disregard the recommendations of the neutral arbitrator, impose the worst possible terms, and tell the public employees to “take it or leave it.”

The shameful record of five members of the N.K. School Committee is a cruel one:

26 janitors fired. Their jobs and tax dollars - and ultimately the School Department’s control over the work - surrendered to an out-of-state company 1,000 miles away.

Ignoring concessions totaling more than $1.6 million made by the lowest paid employees in the school department - including $400,000 additional concessions made at the eleventh hour at the request of the School Committee – five members of the Committee (with the acquiescence of School Superintendent Phil Auger) pushed 26 families closer to poverty with the swipe of a pen.

Twenty-six families - members of the community – hit with a 30% reduction in their annual income.

Not to be outdone, three members of the N.K. Town Council in concert with N.K. Town Manager Michael Embury matched the shameful record of the N.K. School Committee:

• A depleted fire department (already down 22 firefighters) found its work week unilaterally increased by more than 30%. Firefighters forced to work 62 hours in a row; 96 hours in a five day stretch.

And their pay for the additional hours? None! Rejecting an arbitrator’s award, just as the School Committee had recently done, the Council told the firefighters, “We’re not increasing your pay, we’re just dividing your current pay over more hours.”

This is not just about legalities and what is and is not permitted in labor negotiations. Nor is it about copays, percentages, or being tough. This is a moral issue. The actions of the school committee and the town council are an attack on families.

Who among us would want to be in the shoes of the janitor who must turn to his family and say, “We can’t afford to pay the mortgage this month. What can I do?” Or, “We can’t afford to pay those bills and you will need to cut back on the groceries and medications.”

This is about pushing workers to the point of exhaustion. To the point where personal safety is compromised: safety of workers who are over-tired, and safety of the public dependent on those workers.

They need your help and I am asking you to do three things:

1. Call or email the officials listed below. Tell them that what they have done is wrong. Remind them that you, too, pay taxes and will be voting in November.

Send your email to Town Council members (Elizabeth Dolan, Carol Hueston, and Charlie Stamm) at the following email address (this will ensure that all members of the council receive your message):

And please copy the Town Manager:

Michael Embury

School Committee

Kimberly Page     294-6378
Dick Welch         885-4111
Larry Ceresi        952-4078
Lynda Avazanto  294-1164
And please copy the superintendent:

Phil Auger

2. Check out the following links for information and share them with your friends on Facebook. Ask your friends to email the Council and School Committee, as well.
3. Come to the School Committee meeting on Tuesday, August 28. It is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at the high school, and we'll be gathering starting at 6:30. We’ll post any last minute changes or cancellations on this website. (

Once again, thank you for your help. While the end of the battle is not always clear, our moral obligation to engage on behalf of each other is. Thank you.

In Solidarity,

Larry Purtill

For more local news, visit NEARI local association websites by district.

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