McLoughlin Take 2: Sch’dy schools CSEA members were ripped off
Memo to the Civil Service Employees Association: Why not do the decent thing and reimburse all dues to the 100-plus members of Steve Raucci’s school district bargaining unit? Or, at the very least, why not give them free pot-holders with the union logo or some other suitable trinkets because CSEA not only FAILED to represent them but actually worked AGAINST its own dues-paying workers?
Yes, we got reminded again this week of that beautiful chapter in CSEA history as the Schenectady City School District released 11,000 pages of confidential communications, emails and the like, having to do with Steven Raucci, the tinhorn wiseguy wannabe who terrorized his workers while wearing two hats, that of their boss and that of their union leader. Raucci is taking a little time-out now, 23 years to life, to think about how wrong he was to plant bombs on cars and at homes to intimidate, among others, his employees-union members. The Daily Gazette and the Times Union had sued after the school district refused to release the emails, and these documents were a part of the settlement of the suit.
From thousands of pages, Gazette reporter Kathleen Moore spotlighted an email from Raucci to the principal of the high school that clearly illustrates the double-dealing these CSEA members were afforded by their dues. A janitor had worked some emergency overtime, but Raucci, who was president of the union local representing these maintenance workers, is NOT complaining that the worker has not been paid; instead, Raucci, apparently in his role as supervisor, lays into the principal because he HAS paid it. CSEA Region 4 President Kathy Garrison testified at Raucci’s trial that the union had found no problem with his wearing the two hats. Really?
“I used to think that CSEA cared about its members,” Schenectady County District Attorney Bob Carney told me, “but after that trial, I just don’t know.” The DA was tough on Garrison during her time on the witness stand. “Maybe, if she got on the stand and said ‘we, the union, made mistakes here,’ I might have gone easier, but she still wanted to make it look like this was all local; she supposedly did not know about it, and nobody on the state level knew anything about it, when it was readily apparent that this was simply not true,” he said.
Carney said Hal and Deborah Gray, Schenectady County CSEA leaders who had their homes and cars vandalized, not only said they appealed to Kathy Garrison’s regional office for help, but the DA says Hal Gray told CSEA President Danny Donohue face to face the dirty secrets of life under Steve Raucci. “Donohue blew him off,” said Carney.
One month after Raucci’s conviction, Garrison told a newspaper reporter that the regional CSEA had “begged” the Schenectady members to come forward
after the union got an anonymous letter about Raucci’s abuse.
“You know what happened?” said Carney. “CSEA held this big meeting with the members and they brought a guy in who got up and asked them to detail their complaints. Who was sitting in the back of the room? Steve Raucci, with a big grin on his face. If they really wanted to know what Raucci was up to, they would have held confidential meetings with each member, but they did not do that, did they? Why? Because CSEA did not want to know what Raucci was doing. He was Kathy Garrison’s man in the schools; he was running off fliers at school district expense telling his workers to ‘vote for Kathy.’ And [Raucci] was making sure that no grievances were filed or you got fired.”
Carney said his investigation uncovered the tale of the plumber who was hated by Raucci. Personal reasons, nothing to do with his performance. So Raucci decides to get rid of the plumber, but to do that, Raucci decides he has to convince the school board to get rid of not only the plumber, but his assistant as well, both union members. A money-saving move, he told the board. Carney says that not long after that, with the faucets leaking and the commodes in trouble, Raucci decided they needed plumbers after all, and he hired two new ones.
“This clearly would have been an opportunity for CSEA to file a grievance, but nothing,” the DA says. “CSEA did not want to know.”
During the trial, a school utility worker testified that he felt like he had nowhere to turn. “I paid hundreds and hundreds of dollars in union dues and I had no representation,” he said.
C’mon, CSEA, give that guy something! A mousepad. A key ring. Some little tchotchke with that beautiful red, white and blue logo!