THE CONTINUED and ONGOING INTIMIDATION TACTICS by SPFPA Union and SPFPA sympathizers will not deter me from completing my job to apprise all union members, and anyone else who shares an interest, in what actually transpired during negotiations for a new contract and how we were misrepresented by SPFPA International Union.
Although we were issued a ‘gag order’ before and during negotiations, which I personally adhered to, the negotiations were not intended to be kept secret from the members after they were over, at least that was not my intention. And Jack Cleveland Casino did not make that request.
It appears that the SPFPA folks are the ones who want to now silence the proceedings through ongoing intimidation tactics. Secret negotiations always imply possible corruption, thus transparency is always the best policy.
Before I go any further I want to be perfectly clear on two things:
First: This is not personal for me. It is business.
Yes, I take it personally when I am and/or my family is threatened on behalf of any union for any reason, but my intention to decertify SPFPA and align with a more reputable union is directly related to their demonstrated ineffectiveness and strategies malaligned with the core values of integrity, trust and respect.
No one from any union other than SPFPA has made threats to me or to my family except International SPFPA Union of America, via their attorneys, president David Hickey and anonymous SPFPA sympathizers. The red flags regarding SPFPA came directly from SPFPA.
Everyone knows me to be a hard-working man who takes care of his family. I give an honest day’s work and expect an honest day’s pay. I don’t expect any handouts. I seek no favors. I pay 2 & 1/2 hours pay every month to belong to SPFPA. I expect services for that. As a consumer I feel cheated. I am not getting my money’s worth. Nor are any of our members getting their moneys worth.
Second: I have no outstanding issues with Jack Cleveland Casino regarding the negotiations. I love my job. Jack has always done right by me. I knew when I signed up what I was getting, and they delivered. Their 5-person negotiating team was professional, courteous and straight forward. If I am not happy I can leave. No hard feelings.
Bottom line: Due to the lack luster performance and threatening nature that I witnessed as the foundation of the SPFPA business model I seek to take my business elsewhere. There should be no hard feelings. Certainly not threats, veiled threats, or intimidation, legal or otherwise.
Now, having cleared that air, it’s back to Friday, August 30th, 2019, 2:00 p.m.
Mark is anxious. He had to check out of his hotel, collect his wife and beat the rush hour weekend traffic out of Dodge.
He clearly states that this is the best we are going to get and that if we don’t accept it we are in some jeopardy. He had previously distinguished “best offer” from “last best offer”.
The difference according to Mark was that “best offer” had wiggle room and could be negotiated. “Last best offer” was final, and if we turned that down there would be jeopardy. Jack could withdraw the offer and give us less, hell, they could even bus in security guards from Detroit.
Having that ace in the whole so to speak of “best offer”, we agreed to take this proposal to our members for ratification. It was their ‘best offer”, it was not their “last best offer”, which gave us some wiggle room to negotiate for more. There can be no mistake about that. BEST. NOT LAST BEST.
Three times Mark Crawford said to me: “There is a substantive, significant, all-important distinction between BEST OFFER and LAST BEST OFFER. The former has wiggle room the latter is the end of the line.So when Jack presented their counter-proposal to our fist proposal for wage rate, and it was obvious that I wasn’t thrilled, Mark asked if I wanted to ask for their BEST OFFER, I was emphatic. “Yes”, I said, “but do not ask for their “LAST BEST OFFER”. Instead of breaking, he immediately chirped, “Is that your best offer?” The lawyer immediately chirped back, “yes”.
So when I agreed to take this offer to our members, it was with the understanding that we could come back for more discussion. There was still a chance for a LAST BEST OFFER. Or so I was led to believe.
Essentially, our own union didn’t allow us to make a counter offer to Jack’s BEST OFFER. That’s not how negotiations are supposed to work.
I was in for one more surprise before we left. I had SPFPA time loss forms already filled out and given to Mark, so that our officers could be payed by the Union in a timely manner for work that they were doing for the Union, approximately $1,200.00.
Like all successful businesses Jack Cleveland Casino strictly controls costs. Waste not, want not. Especially labor costs. And most of all, overtime. In almost five years I have never been payed a penny more than I was owed. And that’s how it should be.
Likewise, although I wear two hats, Jack and SPFPA, I have never confused the two. Jack is Jack and Union is Union. When I go to a disciplinary hearing or when an employee is exercising their Weingarten Rights, I always clock out. I never do union business on Jack’s dime. I wouldn’t think of it. Nor would Jack tolerate it.
Therefore, you can appreciate how flabbergasted I was when Mark Crawford doing his best impersonation of a Public Square panhandler, hat in hand, begged the Jack negotiating committee to pay the approximately $1,200.00 in time loss that was owed to the four Jack Security Officers who attended the four days of negotiations. And even more flabbergasted when without batting an eye the Jack spokesperson agreed.
I mean that doesn’t even pass the sniff test. There is something definitely rotten in Denmark. Who would even muster up the nerve to ask such an outrageous question? Lets just say for the the sake of the argument that I told Jack Casino that I had to go to Detroit for a week on Union Business. Oh, and by the way, I also expect Jack to pay my way and compensate me at my going rate of pay for time missed from work. Forget how horrible the optics, it reeks of quid pro quo.
A guy who for four days does nothing to benefit our local union, who for four days actually undermines said union and said local president, now has the unmitigated gall to add insult to injury by saving $1,200 to blow at this years SPFPA convention in Disney World. That’s what flabbergasted means. Blown away. And even more flabbergasted, when without batting an eye the Jack spokesperson caved, succumbed, lost their verve, almost like a hypnotic spell, a snap of the fingers without any thought and Mark Crawford was in.
I worked Saturday and got as much feed back as possible. I posted on the bulletin board that we would vote for ratification on Tuesday. But then a couple of things happened that made that vote unrealistic.
FIRST: I couldn’t get a straight answer on who could or could not vote. According to Jack when a Security Officer is on probation for ninety days, that officer has no union rights for ninety days. The rules are different before and after. However, the union makes officers pay dues from day one. Are they expected to pay dues yet not be allowed to vote? That doesn’t pass the sniff test either. It sounds more like a prison requirement. Probation equals casino prison and since you’re being punished by Jack, you also get your voting rights taken away from you, but you still have to pay the dues. We deserved clarification.
Since twenty percent of our officers are on probation, there’s no way we can have a vote without first resolving that issue.
SECOND: Early Sunday morning I received e-mail notification from Jack’s attorney that several changes were made to the working agreement and that a final version would eventually be forwarded. Until it was confirmed that these changes were indeed ‘not substantive’ (which was their claim) no one in their right mind would expect our members to vote on a five year contract without being aware of what was in that five year binding agreement.
Since it was the Labor Day weekend and no offices would open until Tuesday I cancelled the scheduled vote and indicated that the details would follow.
On Tuesday International President David Hickey called me at work. I clocked out and took the call.
The call lasted forty minutes. I couldn’t get a straight answer out of him on any of our concerns, questions that should have had easy, definitive answers. He contradicted himself on several key issues. I’ll spare you the details of his forty minute rant, but he was not happy that we wanted to postpone our vote until we could get what Mark promised, a BEST FINAL OFFER, after we had a chance to plead our case one last time. Hickey was loud, aggressive and threatening, but he indicated he would call Jack and eventually get back to me.
That evening while out to dinner with my wife he called. I took the call. It was a forty minute diatribe that was abusive, condescending and very threatening to myself and my family. His profanity-laced screeching and screaming ending with him saying,
“I don’t give a good damned what you say or think, we are having a vote next Tuesday and you had better not say one negative word or you’ll be sorry. And don’t think I won’t hear about it. I hear everything. My people are everywhere. Be warned.”David Hickey
I was shaken. I had never been spoken to like that professionally. I immediately called Jack’s Director of Security and told him the threatening nature of the call.
The next morning I resigned as president of local union 141. I announced it by e-mail to Mark Crawford and Team Jack and via our website to our local union members.
I worked one more day, then left on a prescheduled week-end trip to the West Coast.
When I returned to Cleveland I notified Mark Crawford that I still hadn’t been paid. He informed me that David Hickey would hand deliver said check to me on Tuesday, the day of the vote. Remember now, we were being forced to vote without getting our questions answered on who could vote and without the opportunity to counter their wage offer and ask them for a LAST BEST OFFER. Jack Cleveland Casino made one offer and we had to accept it, without any argument. So there was no real negotiation.
I did not feel safe having David Hickey who used gangster-style tactics against me and my family hand-deliver me anything. He should have confirmed that Jack was going to pay. Now he was going to pay?? Why the sudden change? Was he bringing checks for the others on the negotiating team? I don’t know, but I didn’t feel comfortable with his response. What would it look like on the day of voting for the president to be handing me an envelope, when it was agreed that Jack would pay?
I also was concerned that if his people were everywhere and I was at Jack, what might he do to my wife? He knows where we live, Sharon takes our dog for walks, she walks to the stores. He says he hears everything, that his people are everywhere.
I called off the next day. And one more day after that, just to be sure he was probably back in Detroit or at least not in Cleveland. I look upon it as temporarily dodging a bullet, so to speak. I still to this day don’t want to be in the same room as David Hickey. Yes, he is that brutal and I believed every threat with which he attacked me and my family. I still don’t know if we’re safe. And that is why I prefer a different union or no union at all.
That’s what terror is; you just never know what they’ll do if they already would go that far as to make the threats in the first place. I don’t believe they were idle and neither does Sharon.
1 – Local Union 141 was not properly represented by SPFPA. Through their actions, they represented Jack Cleveland Casino.
2 – I feel we were cheated by not getting our LAST BEST OFFER. We weren’t even given the opportunity to respond to their BEST OFFER.
3 – We didn’t get our straight forward questions answered, and
4 – Nobody had a chance to read the contract, that should have included a separate sheet stating the changes that were made to the agreement by Jack, without my prior knowledge and agreement, before the Local Union 141 members voted on it. The contract was supposedly given to each member when they showed up to vote. Whether the changes were stated in a concise way in said document listed as changes made to said document and who agreed to said changes is still not known by me.
Security Officer Steve Davies