Teachers sue over Union Dues & Activities citing Janus

A group of current and former teachers has filed a lawsuit in federal court against NEA-Alaska, the Matanuska-Susitna Education Association, the Mat-Su Borough School District, and the Alaska Labor Relations Board, over union dues and union activities citing the brand new US Supreme Court case Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, 138 S. Ct. 2448 (2018).

teachers class action

The Plaintiffs  – Tracy Crockett, Kathryn McCollum, David Nees, Carol Carman, Dolores McKee, and Donn Liston – claim that teachers should not have been forced to join a teachers’ union or pay union dues or “agency fees.”  They are seeking a refund of past monies paid.  (The MSBSD has already permanently stopped collecting compulsory public employee fair-share fees.) They also make various claims re: collective bargaining.

The class action lawsuit was filed on August 2, 2018, in the United States District Court for the District of Alaska.

The initial Complaint:

lawsuit teacher msbsd nea

The Union defendants’ Motion to Dismiss:

Motion to Dismiss by NEA

The Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint:

Amended complaint teachers v nea

Various other motions have been filed in the case, which is ongoing.

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The MSB should issue an annual Executive Compensation and Travel Report

The State of Alaska issues an annual Executive Compensation and Travel Report.

The MSB needs to issue a similar report.  The public has a right to review all salaries and all travel expenses – who travelled, purpose of travel, and costs.

 

Here are examples from the State’s report.  The MSB can use the exact same format. state travelstate travel 5state travel 4

The Port Repairs are never ending

The MSB is seeking more money for the Port repair project at the upcoming Assembly Meeting (Oct 16, 2018):

The Port Repair project seems to be never-ending.

Here is a MSB press release from December 2015:

Port press release dec 2015

Below are some comprehensive articles late 2016 and early 2017 about the continuing problems:

https://www.alaskapublic.org/2016/12/30/port-mackenzie-repairs-spread-mat-su-budget-thin/

https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/mat-su/2017/01/29/insurance-company-denies-2-3-million-claim-for-mat-su-port-repairs/

Here is a 2017 MSB Port budget presentation with photos showing some damage to the dock:

Port slides fy2017portassemblybudgetpresentation

Here are charts (from 2017 – last available online) of completed and ongoing projects at the Port:Port Mac completed projects Feb 2017

Port Mac current projects feb 2017

TIMELINE OF EVENTS:

1999 – 2003 – Port is Built

December 2015 – MSB Assembly approves $2.5 million for emergency repairs.

May 2016 – Initial repairs are completed.  Contractors are Orion & PND.

October 2016 – These repairs fail.

Jan. 2017 – MSB’s insurance company Chubb denies the claim for the original damage asserting that the damage started when dock was built years earlier

The MSB uses some of the leftover initial repair money and approves more money to conduct long term repairs.

Spring of 2017: MSB starts long term repair process consisting of Phase I and Phase II

Phase I was Sandstrom with PND as engineers

Sandstrom’s contract is for $532,357

Spring/Summer 2018:

Phase II (ongoing) is Orion Marine with Moffat & Nichol as engineers/construction management.

Orion’s contact is for just over $2 million

Moffat & Nichol’s contract to supervise Phase II of the 2018 repairs has increased from the initial contract amount of $96,838 to a new total of $312,288 (after two extensions.)

Here are the relevant Port Commission Meeting Minutes.

FALL 2015:

WINTER AND SPRING 2016:

SUMMER AND FALL 2016:

WINTER AND SPRING 2017:

SUMMER AND FALL 2017:

2018

Here are the relevant RFPs and Ordinances and Resolutions:

Port costs 2017 and 2018

Here is the $2 million contract for Orion Marine:

Port Orion bid

 

Here is first extension for Moffat & Nichol:

 

Here is initial contract with Sandstrom:

Lunch Money

lunch lost in space

The Mat-Su Borough leaders love to dine on the taxpayers’ dimes.  Despite making very good salaries (and receiving fabulous retirement and health benefits), the Manager, Clerk, Attorney, and Directors, all of whom have MSB credit cards, often dine out at local restaurants on workdays.

It is understandable that these folks, when travelling on MSB business, can’t brown bag it, but many of them feel entitled to eat lunch locally using the MSB credit cards so long as MSB “business” is discussed.

Is this right?

Here are many recent examples:

Lunch 1Lunch 2Lunch 3Lunch 4Lunch 5Lunch 6Lunch 7lunch 8Lunch 9Lunch 10Lunch 11Lunch 13Lunch 14Lunch 15Lunch 16Lunch 17Lunch 18Lunch 19Lunch 20Lunch 21Lunch 22Lunch 23Lunch 24Lunch 25Lunch 26Lunch 27Lunch 28Lunch 29Lunch 30Lunch 31Lunch 32Lunch 33Lunch 34Lunch 35Lunch 36

Here are more examples going back a couple of years:

Lun 8Lun 2Lun 5Lun 4Lun 1Lun 10Lun 3Lun 11Lun 9Lun 14Lun 15Lun 7Lun 18Lun 16Lun 17Lun 6Lun 22Lun 21Lun 23Lun 20Lun 26Lun 12Lun 19Lun 24Lun 27Lun 25

 

 

 

MSB Credit Card statements March – August 2018 (includes China Trade Trip expenses)

Here are the Mat-Su Borough’s credit card statements for the months of March, April, May, June, July and August 2018.

2018.10.03 PRR CC Statements STROUP

Here are some highlights:

ALASKA CHINA TRADE MISSION – May 2018

Mayor Vern Halter, Manager John Moosey, and Assembly Member Randall Kowalke were the three MSB reps who went on this trip.  It is unclear if the MSB had to pay the $3,000 fee in addition to paying for their own airfare, hotels, and food.

China Trade Mission

Here are the China trip expenses from the MSB credit card statements.  The grand total (if my calculations are correct) was $14,520.17.  There may be other charges out there.  Sometimes, the MSB pays through vendors and/or reimbursements.

UPDATE 10/05/2018: The MSB Manager’s Asst responded to my email and confirmed that the MSB also paid 9K to the State to participate (3K for each participant.)

So, the running total for this trip is now: $23,520.17.

China 1china 2china 4China 5China 6China 7China 8China 9China 10China 11

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS:

Manager John Moosey bought himself a new ipad for just over a thousand dollars from the Apple store.

john moosey ipad

Manager Moosey also bought camera equipment and flowers. (The camera equip may be for the PR office.)

Moosey camera and flowers

John Moosey goes out to lunch a LOT on the MSB’s dime. (This is written into his contract; IIRC, he is allowed approx. $400 per month in “expenses.”)

The Manager and Mayor attended the summer AML conference at Denali:

Moosey Denali bluffs

The MSB Attorney Nicholas Spiropoulos had a lunch to discuss confidential items with R.K. (Randall Kowalke) at the Palmer City Alehouse.  I guess the items were okay to discuss at a public restaurant.  Nick also had lunch at the Alehouse with JM (John Moosey) to discuss “MSB issues.” Don’t these people have offices at the MSB Dorothy Swanda building? (We paid millions and millions to remodel and expand this building.) Of course the MSB Manager and MSB Attorney should be discussing MSB issues because um, that is what we pay them to do – but why can’t they pay for their own lunches from their hefty salaries?? Nick lunches with RK and JM

The MSB’s IT Director Eric Wyatt attended a conference in Phoenix in February (which is a very nice time to get away from Alaska) and he expensed several lunch meetings at the Colony Inn Cafe steakhouse (conveniently located right next to MSB building; but sadly, it just closed) as well as costly meals related to the Cyber attack:

Eric Wyatt 1Eric Wyatt 2Eric Wyatt 3Eric Wyatt 4Eric Wyatt 5

 

Letter from Concerned Citizen re: MSB Emergency Services

ambulance

Date: September 17,2018

Copies sent to the following:

Major: Vern Halter

Borough Manager: John Moosey

Deputy Borough Manager: George Hays

MSB Assembly

Jim Sykes

Matthew Beck

George McKee

Ted Leonard

Dan Mayfield

Barbara Doty

Randall Kowalke

City of Palmer City Council 

Media: 

Frontiersman Editor

Current & former employee comments regarding the Leadership!   

The barriers to effective leadership was not knowing how to communicate with their people. Maybe the leader didn’t listen enough or they weren’t approachable or accessible. Or maybe they didn’t know how to articulate themselves or they were socially withdrawn. Having effective communication skills is vital when it comes to leadership. MSB EMS Responder.

Informal leaders who are attempting to share ideas are shot down. One of the barriers to effective leadership in the department, according to the responder, was that there is not enough freedom for free thinking leaders. Informal leaders are squashed and supervisory or positional leaders are very threatened by them. As a formal leader, don’t use your positional power to try to keep people in line. Use your positive influence, your vision, and your role model example. MSB EMS Responder. 

Regardless of their position, whether it was a EMT, Paramedic, Driver, Captain, or Command Staff, they weren’t free enough in the department to really put their ideas out there, or say what’s wrong, or what needs to be fixed because they’re afraid they’ll be retaliated against. People need to feel safe in coming forward with their ideas, suggestions, and input. And if you’re the one coming forward, you need to do it with respect and humility. MSB EMS Responder.                                 

I hope these introductory remarks seized your attention because I am writing to you in concerns to a grave and possible catastrophic situation that is occurring within the MSB emergency services under the Assembly’s and Directors watch.  I am speaking in concerns to the state of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to be specific.

I was employed with MSB EMS and have been involved with emergency services for over the past 15 years in various functions throughout the lower 48, and recently in Alaska. It is not until recently I have observed the magnitude of damages and destruction the MSB is currently on under the current management. Presently, EMS is in severe disarray and in danger of failing to deliver adequate services to the public. The MSB is suffering from severe staffing shortages and deficiencies with on-call and full-time employees resigning, quitting, or being terminated daily due to the hostile working conditions, and lack of support from management. Over the past 15 years I have seen employees come and go in varies agencies, however, this is the first time in my career that I have seen a mass exodus from one organization without anyone taking serious note of the public safety consequence this is creating. This disturbing rate of employee departures creates a public safety concern for the public and our communities due to the lack of EMS providers answering the calls for 911 emergency medical services.

Under the current management, rural areas such as Sutton, Butte, Talkeetna, Willow, and Trapper Creek have been decimated of their volunteer responders without a plan in place to provide sufficient service to the citizens. These on-call volunteers resigned, quit, or were terminated due to the hostile working environment, and lack of support under the current management. In Talkeetna EMS responders walked out over their disgust with managements performance. This continues to happen across the MSB without anyone taking notice.

Core areas such as Wasilla, Palmer, and West Lakes are simply hanging on by a strand with possible disruptions of emergency medical services due low staffing shortages. The public is oblivious that at any given time of the day when they call 911 for emergency medical services they may, or may not get an ambulance, or first responders depending on the day and the current staffing deficiencies.  EMS repeatedly runs out of ambulances or does not have units available to provide medical services to the communities we are accountable for serving. The hostile working conditions are appalling, and the lack of support is causing responders to quit, and seek opportunities away from the MSB.

Other significant issues that are plaguing EMS, and creating a public safety hazards is that responders are not able to operate at their highest level of medical certification or licensure due to the poor organizational policies, and the current Medical Director tyranny temperament. For example, we have multiple EMTs that are trained as fully functional Paramedics; however, they are not allowed to operate as Paramedics based on organizational policies, and the Medical Director’s tyranny temperament. As well as Paramedics being demoted, hassled, chastened, and demeaned over insignificant transgressions of policies and procedures creating constant aggressive working conditions.

Recently EMT 3’s an ALS/ ACLS an advanced care provider had most of their advanced skills and abilities removed from them since the Training & Logistical Chief, as well as the Medical Director did not like the scope of practice that has been provided to theses responders, and stripped these providers of all their advanced skill level of practice. This move to strip EMT 3’s of their scope of practice was catastrophic to many of the rural communities. Many of these communities rely on EMT 3’s as their only source of an advanced prehospital medical care. Many of these communities do not have Paramedic level care, and Paramedic level care could be hours away when requested in the event of a significant emergency.

The Medical Director a contract employee that has been permitted to operate unrestricted and has been involved in employee disciplinary activities without due process to the employee through human resources or union representation per the collective bargaining agreement.  The Medical Director has been engaged in employee intimidation, coercion, and other aggressive behaviors against employees while management sits backs and supports his actions. Recently the Medical Director coerced a Paramedic Supervisor employee not to seek union representation, or file a grievance when they had been wrongfully punished by the management. The Medical Director threated to pull his medical sponsorship from the employee if the employee progressed with the union process. However, he stated that he would continue to sponsor the employee as long as the employee did not seek union representation, and or proper progressive employee disciplinary procedures. This is only one example of intimidation and coercion, that goes unreported and hidden daily. The Medical Director is extremely involved in daily operations exceeding his contract terms and conditions creating operational vulnerabilities based on his lack of operational experiences within EMS services only creating a substantial public safety risk.

Under the current management, the MSB face a severe nepotism issue with two management level employees being in positions of authority directly underneath one another in the Chain of Command chart. The Chief of EMS is married to the Training and Logistics Assistant Chief. Both having the authority to discipline employees and create policies and procedures without the proper checks and balances. Upon the new Chief of EMS assuming control of our department, it was advised that her husband the Training and Logistics Assistant Chief was going to answer directly to the Director of EMS (Director 3). However, all employees full time and part-time employed by EMS must answer to the Chief of EMS creating a significant conflict of interest due to nepotism. Recently the Chief of EMS, and the Training and Logistics Assistant Chief son was recently hired as a part-time EMT creating yet another conflict of interest under the nepotism policy. There are rules and procedures within the MSB addressing issues such as nepotism that have been designed for this very exact reason that are often ignored, or manipulated to suit those we desire to place in these positions as we desire.

The unpredictability of the EMS Chief position has an average career span of about year and half before they call it quits, or are terminated for again varies infractions that are never to be made public due to employee confidentiality concerns. How can you expect a department to function professionally when the department head is continuously changing under turmoil at an alarming rate?

The morale under the current management is at an all-time low. Employees both full-time and part-time feel unappreciated, and devalued. Employees are often walking on eggshells in an attempt to avoid displeasing management in attempts to avoid being harassed or retaliated against under our current authoritarian management system for minor infractions, or at the whim of the Medical Director’s temperament.

Current fulltime employees are not seeking promotional opportunities such as EMT moving up to Paramedic, and Paramedics not moving up to Paramedic Supervisor. Employees are simply not applying for the current positions, and have no aspirations to seek additional responsibilities under the current oppressive management due to the hostile working environment, and lack of support. Fulltime, as well as on-call employees are often fearful to voice their concern, or disagreement over concerns or topics with management. They often feel if they voice their concerns, they become a target only to be forced out for not conforming to the managements every desire, or demands. Employees are demoralized, fed up, and beat down under the current management system. These factors affect public safety, and patient care directly.

Many of the EMS employees are hopeful that the lawsuit filed by our former EMS Director will bring attention to the problems that are plaguing EMS, and the hostile working environment under our current management.  Multiple other employees present, and former have reached out to the attorney that is handling the lawsuit on behalf of our former EMS Director hoping to provide information to the legal team to only build a stronger case against the borough. Employees are very optimistic that this lawsuit cleans house again as it did about five years ago under similar circumstances.

There are a few options that you can consider after reading this letter, You can ignore the problem and act as if it is not happening and hope for the best. By neglecting the situations and current conditions that are occurring the problem will only continue to grow simply creating more of a public safety concern until we have complete catastrophic failure of services with no ambulances or providers answering medical calls. Possibly more lawsuits, and complaints being brought forth by current and former employees for hostile working conditions. Ongoing retention of quality employees will only continue to worsen, and recruiting will be impacted. You have the option to thoroughly investigate the issues and concerns plaguing EMS and make changes that will eliminate such problems in the future. This option will allow EMS to grow and provide emergency medical services to the citizens of our communities and provide public safety to the communities that we all serve.  In conclusion, you have a few options to consider. Time and actions will determine your course of action in regards to the current working conditions and public safety concerns.

Very Respectfully,

Concerned Citizen