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Dealing with the Troy, Michigan School District And My Dysfunctional Union

A Statement by a Fired Worker

This is a short overview of how my employer, Troy School District in Michigan, fabricated a 'file' of alleged threats by me to ultimately cause my firing. By doing this, they attempted to silence any opposition to or exposure of their discrimination and exploitation of individuals, the bargaining unit and, of course, me. Although my case is the most outstanding example of this tactic, it has not been limited to me. The others simply suffer, and cave in to the constant harassment and fear created by this repetitive scenario. In addition, my union, the MEA, failed to file or process grievances on my behalf, and blocked any investigation regarding my case.

I will give a list of the disciplines, the phony police report, a short description of the "medical examination," the local unions (TESPA), and the role of the MEA (Michigan Education Association). Not to be understated is the role of the union in this. I was exposing their collusion and failure to represent in the form of many grievances. This caused their retaliation and complete failure to represent.

The disciplines for allegations of threats and "gross insubordination" are all directly related to my union activities. These were in the form of grievances, statements made at general membership meetings, and letters I have written on behave of the bargaining unit, individuals and myself. Every discipline is retaliation for these actions.

On January 14, 1997, I was accused of threatening the Asst. Supt. of Human Resources when I said I would file grievances and arbitration as a means to prevent an illegal and discriminatory workers compensation policy being imposed on the bargaining unit. Prior to this "special conference" where this policy was to be discussed, I had been most outspoken about the discrimination and incompetence that was behind it. This proposed policy was actually the motivation for the nearly clean sweep of local officers in the elections of November 1996. I was elected vice-president at that time. It was at that exact moment of my statement, during this meeting, the administrator (Maureen Kelly) exploded with this accusation. I must explain here that Maureen Kelly has been a subject of many of my grievances, and she has a long festering vendetta against me. I regularly refer to her as a bigot, racist, sexist, liar, coward and incompetent. All of which she is.

After the meeting I received a letter that has since been illegally put into my file and called discipline. This has been used as "progressive discipline." The letter was given to me under completely fraudulent terms, which can be proven. The next was a letter of discipline I received was on April 30, 1998 when I was forced into a meeting by an administrator (Mike Williams), who was accusing me of medical fraud and illegal union activities. This was when I led the bargaining unit in the decertification of AFSCME as our representatives. (In March 1998 I was contacted by MEA representatives to organize for the MEA. The goal was to decertify AFSCME Counsel 25 as our union affiliation. I strongly believed AFSCME failed to meet their obligations as our union affiliation. I am a strong union supporter and by no means anti-union.)

I was not disciplined for either accusation, but for allegations of threats during the meeting and allegations of threatening behavior towards unnamed other employees. Once again I stated I was filing grievances. Ironically, before the meeting, which was attended by the president of the local, I told him that this was the intent of this meeting. During this "investigation" the administrator constantly insulted me and made accusations about my past behavior. He in reality hardly even talked about the medical fraud. I actually had a serious illness, complete renal failure. I was hospitalized and out of work for nearly two months. This was well documented. He called this medical fraud.

The third discipline was for a phone conversation on February 24, 2000, for which I received a three week suspension, for allegations I threatened the then vice-president (Pam Hood) in this phone conversation. In reality the vice-president was threatening and harassing the member I was representing that night, and for whom I had filed grievances for. The VP was acting on direct orders of the Asst. Superintendent Maureen Kelly. She wanted to invalidate legal and processed grievances on behalf of Maureen Kelly. She had absolutely no right to do this or even be involved because at that level the uniserv-director of the MEA has jurisdiction. She then made a phony police report of a fictionalized nonexistent phone call claiming I was going to stop her from driving a bus. This was actually in regard to her inquiry about grievances I was filing about her undercutting our overtime pay structure, and to be allowed to hold two hourly positions. These actions were unprecedented and just a "sweetheart deal" to line her pockets. I also did not even bring the subject up, she did. I simply said I was filing grievances about them. The administrators and the MEA have refused to produce the phone records to substantiate this phone call which was long distance. The description of this phone call is so outrageously false it is almost comical, except for the effect it has had on my life. Also intentionally overlooked is the fact that I only paged this person at the asking of the member, who had just been called by Hood about the grievances. Hood had been threatening her for weeks.

The last discipline, the firing, and probably the most demented of all, regards the letter I sent to the President of the MEA, Lu Battaglieri. This letter was given to the Superintendent of Troy Schools. The Superintendent stated the now president of our local, Pam Hood, and the same person who called the police, gave her the letter. The superintendent claimed that the letter was actually meant for her. This then caused my firing for "gross insubordination" because she did not believe I had the right to criticize her administrators in this letter. The superintendent implied I had no right to send a copy of the letter to the local union for our files because Pam Hood could not "do anything for me." I was asking Lu Battaglieri to intervene on my behave because of this colluded liar Pam Hood. Furthermore when the president of the local (Pam Hood) was questioned during a formal hearing within the MEA infrastructure she denied giving the letter to the Superintendent. A flagrant lie. The MEA allowed this lie and many others during this hearing. I was censured by this panel.

In regard to the fabricated and false police report, I was forced to attend a "mental evaluation" under the threat of immediate discharge. This was the most humiliating experience of my life. This doctor, who was hand-picked by the administrator, insulted me, made ethnic remarks about religion and ethnic background and organizations I belonged to. He made many inquiries into my family and personnel life. He made inquires into my sex life. He asked if I was homosexual, and if I had sex the night before the "examination." He wanted to know about my sexual behavior of the past. He was aggressive and antagonizing, trying to provoke an act of violence. This was obvious. He then made the most outrageous "medical report" in his biased and racist opinion and gave it to the employer. This included his remarks about my sex life and behavior. He based this on the false information he received from the employer. I called this "customized report" a complete fraud. He ultimately said I was fit to work. But this embarrassment of a report was placed in the hands of this administrator and her cronies for viewing. This is a sickening thing to have happened.

On February 24, 2000, a police report was submitted concerning alleged threats by myself to the vice-president of my local, who was acting illegally as the grievance chairperson. This was in regards to a phone conversation when the vice-president, acting on behalf of the employer, baited me into making statements about her personnel situation. I had no intention of contacting this person that night, and only did at the urging of a member I was representing. The member had been contacted by this person, and became fearful herself. I believe the police report was a preplanned act because of the fraudulent statements made, and made at the suggestion of the employer who had a great interest in oppressing the grievances of concern.

The local union and the MEA have refused to file grievances, or process my own grievances. They refused to allow any investigation to prove my innocence and the fraud of the accusers. These accusers include several of their staff who are in collusion with this wealthy employer. In our contract a step 3 grievance is the most significant procedure in employees rights to defense. It is here where the employer is to present all evidence to be used in arbitration. The MEA voided this step on all occasions. They have refused to call witnesses on my behalf, refused to acquire the phone records which would be indisputable proof of the administration's lies concerning my guilt. They adjourned the arbitrations, of which there were supposed to be two. They tried to force a settlement which forfeited my job and labeled me a criminal. This involved a phony workers compensation claim I was supposed to agree to. They refused to allow me to make a statement at these arbitrations even if they were convened. They were not going to cross examine witnesses the administration had, which of course meant they could lie unchallenged. They refused to call witnesses on my behalf which could prove that the accusations were fraudulent. They allowed illegal and unknown documents and e-mails to be inserted as evidence, and concealed the fact they existed to just 4 days before the first scheduled arbitration. They even tried to hide these documents in the package they sent me. On the day of the first arbitration I asked for a postponement because of the revelations of these documents, and it was denied. The arbitrator then stopped the hearing, stating that to resolve this issue a settlement should be reached. I was badgered and harassed after that by four MEA representatives there. I even agreed because I was exhausted and frustrated. I agreed to the pathetic money settlement contingent on the language of the agreement. I warned them that day I would not allow the administration to use me as a scapegoat for their demented allegations. Sure enough, when the agreement was presented to me, it was a bad as it could get. I told them it was unacceptable and I no longer would settle under any terms. I was outraged by this document.

Also the attorney for the employer, Craig Lange, has been on my case for years. This was also concealed from me. Even in my first meeting with this "hired gun" he claimed he did not know of my situation and the MEA reps there did not reveal he was lying. This man has been behind this concocted story from the beginning and is known for his ruthless and unethical behavior. I have since researched this "agitator" and found he has used this tactic of disrupted meetings and accusations in other places of public employment.

"In addition, the attorney for the employer, Craig Lange has been party to these fabrications for a number of years. I believe as far back as 1994, and maybe even before that. Mr. Langes role was concealed from me by the MEA. Even in my first meeting with this "hired gun" he claimed he was unaware of the situation and the MEA did not reveal he was lying. Lange, is known for his ruthless and unethical behavior towards employees. I have researched this "agitator" and found he has used similar tactics in other places of public employment. Recently in St. Clair Shores, MI., the city employees refused to accept the proposed contract after negotiations. This made the newspapers.

Instead of negotiating in good faith collective bargaining with the local after the defeat, the city walked out of a meeting after a half hour discussion and then refused to negotiate in a state mediator called meeting. Instead of negotiation, the City tried to impose its own "agreement." The local then went to court. The judge (Edward Servitto) issued a Preliminary Injunction on behalf of the local requiring the City to withdraw unilateral changes in working conditions. Craig Lange is the city attorney for St. Clair Shores. This is not the first time Mr. Lange has attempted this type of "end run." The behavior by city officials and their attitude towards the employees is clearly a reflection of the total disregard Mr. Lange has for employee rights and citizens rights. His clients are consistently involved in bulling tactics. The disruptions I have described are repetitive behavior tactics with my former employer."

Kenneth Farhat
810-264-5562
KDF160@aol.com

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