Maverick Maine Democrat signs on to public sector right-to-work bill Print Email Share Tweet By Matthew Stone, BDN Staff Posted Feb. 27, 2013, at 3:10 p.m. Last modified Feb. 27, 2013, at 3:27 p.m. AUGUSTA, Maine — The former assistant leader of the House … Continue reading
KENNEBUNKPORT — The Board of Selectmen approved a 2 percent cost-of-living wage increase for non-union employees and police lieutenants at its Sept. 27 meeting.
The wage increase affects only non-union employees at this time, who make up 40 percent of the town’s workforce.
Police lieutenants are in a separate union of their own.
The approved three-year contract will include the 2 percent cost-of-living increase in its first year, with a 2.5 percent increase in the second year and a 3.5 percent increase in the third year.
The increases are retroactive to July 1, said Town Manager Larry Mead, as they were originally planned to coincide with a new contract for union employees, which ended June 30 and is in ongoing negotiations. The goal was to pass the changes together, but the proposed union contract did not gain approval from the group last week, Mead said.
“It’s now three months since we’ve gone past and I don’t think it’s fair to wait on the union membership to decide if they are going to approve the contract,” he told the board. “We certainly have adequate funds to cover this for the entire year and we’re hopeful when the union membership settles, we’ll be able to bring it forward for them as well.”
In addition to the wage increase, the board implemented a new health insurance program for non-union employees, the cost of which is 19 percent less than the current plan.
Under the new plan, there will be a deductible covered by the town, but the employee’s share of the costs will increase from the current 7 percent to 10 percent next year, and 15 percent in two years.
The board also renewed a contract with the Cape Porpoise Pier Lobster Company, which now extends for another five-year lease at a rent price of $40,000 a year. The original contract was agreed to in 2007.
KITTERY, Maine — At least six grievances have been filed by union police officers since Police Chief Paul Callaghan took office, and several other disputes never went to grievance because Callaghan rescinded the underlying orders.
The grievances, released to the Herald under a Right-to-Know request, concern everything from disputes over duty shifts to concerns about the hiring process and work assignments of several officers.
Kittery chief defends his actions after no-confidence voteKittery police union votes no confidence in new chiefChief Callaghan defends actions after no-confidence voteKittery cracks down on crime
Early this month, the patrolmen and sergeants unions took a vote of “no confidence” in Callaghan, saying in a letter to Town Manager Robert Markel that he is in essence an ineffective leader.
Teamsters Union Local 340 business agent Sylvia Hebert said the grievances in total paint a picture of a man who does not have the confidence of his officers.
“We have tried to work with the chief and give him latitude” in settling officers’ concerns, she said. “More than once, he’s given his word that he will do something and he doesn’t follow through.”
Hebert said the no-confidence vote was not taken lightly, “and it was not over one incident but over multiple, multiple issues. This is a collective concern.”
But Callaghan said that picture is neither true nor fair.
“I have an open-door policy. I’m a reasonable person and I want to see the best ideas bubble up, but it needs to be a participatory process,” he said. “It’s a two-way street.”
The grievance documents received by the Herald include the following details:
One of the biggest concerns addressed in the letter of no confidence deals with Callaghan’s policy for off-duty use of firearms.
In the grievance, Hebert and officer Robert Byrnes, the patrolmen’s union shop steward, wrote that officers have “historically” used the South Berwick Rod and Gun Club for training. They were able to use their service weapons and received 50 rounds of ammunition per month. The Police Department has paid for officers’ membership, which Callaghan allowed to lapse. The union charged the decision is a “unilateral change in policy.”
Callaghan made no apologies for his decision, saying “my concern was there wasn’t proper off-duty firearms training. What was happening was unacceptable to my training standard,” especially as some of the training was occurring when the public was at the club.
“That’s a potential liability situation,” he said.
The chief said his policy requires that a certified weapons instructor be on hand whenever officers are training, and he wants to institute a regular training schedule. However, he put this and several other policies on hold, and asked Byrnes and Lt. Russell French to review them and come back to him with suggested changes, he said.
The patrolmen’s union and Callaghan disagreed over the work assigned to officer Molly Bossi, who announced her pregnancy shortly after she was hired in March. She was placed on “temporary alternate duty” — a new program instituted by Callaghan that he said will benefit any officer who may not be fit to patrol, but can perform other duties.
The union grieved his decision to place Bossi on TAD, saying officers by seniority should have the right to bid for any changes in the schedule. Further, they said, Bossi is unfit for regular duty during her probationary period, which “prohibits an accurate assessment” of her suitability for the job.
Callaghan said the union’s objection “strongly implies” that Bossi should be terminated to ease staffing challenges, which leaves the town open to possible legal action.
This decision was appealed to Markel and is pending.
In March, Sgt. Steve Hamel, union steward for the sergeants union, filed a grievance after Callaghan posted a job for a part-time court officer. He listed several violations of the union contract, including that preference has to be given to in-house employees first.
Callaghan disagreed with Hamel, saying a Police Department employee devoted exclusively to the courts is necessary as the judiciary is heading toward a “police prosecutor” model. He denied the grievance, which was then appealed to Town Manager Bob Markel. In June, Hebert, Markel and Callaghan signed a settlement, allowing the town to hire the court officer as long as the job doesn’t infringe on the duties of full-time supervisors or officers.
At the end of June, Sgt. Daniel Soule retired from his position and took the part-time court officer job.
In August, a separate grievance was filed stating that Soule responded to an incident as a patrol officer, in violation of the agreement. Callaghan agreed, stating Soule did not “follow proper procedure.” The chief said the matter was addressed internally.
Two grievances were filed in connection with Lt. French. In the first, the sergeants union said, and Callaghan agreed, that French could not apply for an open sergeant’s job because it would be a demotion and not a promotion, and therefore not allowed.
A second grievance was filed because French worked as a patrol sergeant on July 30 and July 31, in violation of the contract. Callaghan agreed and said French would never again work in that capacity.
The Portland Public School System announced last week that Emmanuel Caulk will be the next superintendent, but it’s now official.
The Portland School Board voted Monday night to approve the contract for the incoming superintendent. Caulk — who was most recently an administrator in Philadelphia — will take over for former Superintendent Jim Morse on Aug. 20. The vote to approve the contract was unanimous.
Until Caulk starts in his new position, Deering High School Principal Ira Waltz will continue serving as the acting superintendent.
Caulk said he thinks he can make a profound contribution to the school system and the community.
The incoming superintendent described his core beliefs as maintaining a focus on the students, the teachers, policy, parents and all the residents in Portland. He said all of these parties contribute to the environments and future success of the school system.
As he begins his transition, Caulk said, he wants to hold some listening session in the community.
“It’s important I hear first hand from the people who matter most,” he said.
Caulk said the first two items on his agenda are to listen and learn. He said he plans on meeting with different stakeholder groups to not only get a handle on what they perceive as the issues in the district but also the solutions.
Caulk has most recently been an assistant superintendent in Philadelphia, according to a press release, and oversaw 36 schools that served more than 16,000 students.
Prior to his work in Philadelphia, Caulk worked at school districts in East Baton Rouge, La., and Chicago.
Caulk was selected as Portland’s next superintendent out of a pool of 159 candidates, according to the school district.
Throughout the search process, board Chairwoman Kate Snyder said she heard people talk about Caulk’s objective decision making and his open mind.
“That to me is of huge value to the city of Portland,” she said.
Snyder said he values being visible in the schools and the community; bases decisions on research and date; and is someone people have enjoyed working with.
One thing that Synder said she kept hearing about Caulk was that he frequently talks about teams and collaboration.
“He’s really interested in taking a collaborate, team approach,” she said.
During the final interviews, Snyder said it stood out to her that he talked about not just improving the achievement of the students who are struggling but making sure the curriculum is rigorous enough to challenge the top-performing students as well.
Board member Sarah Thompson, who chaired the search committee, said she received a great deal of feedback that complimented Caulk’s experience, his passion for education, his dedication to students and staff, his humor, his personality and his knowledge.
“Best of all … he’s passionate about education and improving the lives of students and parents,” she said.
FARMINGTON — School board members abandoned their plan to subcontract custodial services after residents threatened Monday night to derail the Mt. Blue Regional School District 9 budget process just days shy of a validation vote.
More than 200 people turned out for Monday’s budget hearing and many vowed to reject Mt. Blue’s proposed 2012-13 budget unless school board members withdrew the subcontracting plan, Superintendent Michael Cormier said.
Residents eventually approved the $28.9 million budget proposal after school board members made assurances they would not pursue subcontracting and instead negotiate a new contract with the union representing the district custodians, he said Tuesday.
The initial resident approval at the budget hearing was required to send the spending plan to a validation vote, which will be Thursday in the district’s 10 towns. That’s when voters will decide whether to adopt the budget proposal, which would increase the overall amount towns pay in school taxes by about $355,000.
The showdown Monday stems from the school board’s decision last month to authorize the subcontracting to save at least $200,000 in the coming year’s budget and each subsequent year. Their plan included layoffs and cuts in benefits affecting about 40 district custodians and bus drivers unless the union agreed to concessions that equaled the projected subcontracting savings.