Union drops Collette Vacations deal over backing for EngageRI

There’s a reason many companies avoid getting involved in politics – they don’t want to alienate potential customers on any side of an issue. Pawtucket-based travel agency Collette Vacations is the latest to learn that lesson.

The National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, ended its relationship with Collette over the weekend thanks to the company’s support for Engage Rhode Island, the deep-pocketed new advocacy group pushing the General Assembly to enact the Raimondo-Chafee pension bill.

NEA’s Member Benefits Corp. subsidiary had a deal with Collette that provided 5% travel discounts and other perks to NEA’s 3.2 million members when they booked their trips through the Pawtucket agency.

The NEA “has severed the relationship it had with Collette,” and “Collette’s involvement with EngageRI factored into the decision-making process,” Robert Walsh, executive director of the NEA’s Rhode Island chapter, told WPRI.com in an email. A spokeswoman for Collette did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

John Galvin, Collette Vacation’s longtime chief financial officer, testified in support of the pension overhaul before the joint finance committee last week, along with other local business leaders including Paul Choquette, former chairman of developer and builder Gilbane, and Merrill Sherman, CEO of Bank Rhode Island.

Collette and Gilbane are among the dozens of organizations listed as “Coalition Members” on EngageRI’s website. Walsh expressed NEARI’s strong opposition to the pension bill in testimony to lawmakers last week.

  • Geoff

    good for Collette and screw Bob Walsh!

    • Geoff

      I shall switch my insurance to AMICA

      • Trick or treat

        I don’t think AMICA sells a policy covering people who still live in their parent’s basements.

      • teddy

        And where do you live,Trick 0r Treat….
        You should’t ASSume–for you know what it makes you look like!

        Happy Halloween!

  • http://pension sleepless in ri

    This is only the first of many business decisions being made by those effected by this pension disaster and their families and friends, who will NOT patronize those businesses involved in Engage RI, even if they do not have any competitor.

    And then there are the “non=profits” in EngageRI profiting from State and Federal contracts, all taxpayer dollars, with 6 figure salaries. Doesn’t the State monitor these contracts to determine how these taxpayer dollars are being utilized?

    Rhode Island is a small state and it just got a whole lot smaller!!

  • DidYouReallyMeanThat

    “This is only the first of many business decisions being made by those effected by this pension disaster and their families and friends, who will NOT patronize those businesses involved in Engage RI, even if they do not have any competitor.”

    sleepless,

    You fail to take into account that there are many that WILL support those businesses, for the very same reasons that the unions won’t. You and the unions like to play the victim card and accuse EngageRI of “being against” you. Maybe you feel that way because EngageRI isn’t just “for” a small number of Rhode Islanders. They’re in favor of not jeopardizing the financial future of our ENTIRE state, and just so happen to be looking at the bigger picture.

    • http://pension sleepless in ri

      I guess obtaining multi=million dollar contracts from the State of RI (my taxpayer money!!!) and advocating for the State to cut pension benefits paid for by the employees so that they can get the contracts, isn’t a conflict of interest.

      We are all free to decide whom we wish to patronize.

      • DidYouReallyMeanThat

        “my taxpayer money!!!)”

        That’s right. It’s only YOUR money. Nobody else’s.

        Talk to me when the union members aren’t sitting on both sides of the bargaining table (union leaders for the unions and legislators who are also union members allegedly bargaining for the state) bestowing unsustainable benefits with ZERO regard as to whether those benefits can ever be paid for.

        “my taxpayer money” indeed!

  • Tired of being beaten up

    Congratulations to Bob Walsh for making an example of any agency that expects to receive monies from union members after publically critizing and lobbying against their livelyhood. I, for one, will continue not to patronize any agency, business, etc. that has supported this pension bill.

    • Also tired of being beaten up

      I agree with you “tired of being beaten up”. Currently I’m looking for a new car and home insurer to replace Amica. I’ve done business with them for many years but won’t continue to given their support for EngageRI.

    • A Voter

      Sounds like a good reason to book a trip with Collette! The unions are getting desperate and showing their thuggish instincts.

  • DidYouReallyMeanThat

    And what’s the best way to make sure there’s ANY money available to pay bloated pensions with COLAs? Sue! That’s right. We ALL know the unions have every intention of suing at every turn if they don’t get their way and drive the state to insolvency. And you know what will happen then?

    Your Pensions will bite the dust (to the tune of “Another one bites the dust”)

    Oooh let’s go
    Trucks move warily down the street
    This state is ready to blow
    Ain’t no sound but the sound of our feet
    Houses packed up, ready to go
    Are you ready, are you ready for this
    With no money you will feel the heat
    Over the borders our tax dollars will slip
    You will meet your defeat

    Your pensions will bite the dust
    Your pensions will bite the dust
    As another one moves, and another one moves
    Your pensions will bite the dust
    Hey, we’re gonna move out too
    Your pensions will bite the dust

    How do you think you’re going to get along
    Without us when we’re gone
    You took us for everything that we had
    So now you’re out on your own

    Are you happy ? Are you satisfied ?
    How long can you stand the heat
    Out of the state our tax dollars will slip
    Your pensions will meet defeat
    Look out!

    Your pensions will bite the dust
    Your pensions will bite the dust
    As another one moves, and another one moves
    Your pensions will bite the dust
    Hey, we’re gonna move out too
    Your pensions will bite the dust

    Hey
    Oh take it
    Bites the dust – bite the dust hey
    Hey
    Your pensions will bite the dust
    Your pensions will bite the dust, ow
    Your pensions will bite the dust, hey hey
    Your pensions will bite the dust, heeey
    Ooh show down

    There are plenty of ways that you can hurt a man
    And bring him to the ground
    You can beat him
    You can cheat him
    You can treat him bad and leave him
    When he’s down, yeah
    But we’re ready, yes we’re ready for you
    We’re standing on my own two feet
    Over the borders our tax dollars will slip
    Retreating while you meet your defeat
    Oh yeah

    • packin' my bags in Westerly

      LOL! Thanks DidYouReallyMeanThat, that is hilarious. You should make a Youtube video.

      That made me laugh harder than the fact Sleepless doesn’t see the irony in “my taxpayer money”. Sleepless wants thier state and local taxes and fees to increase and services to decrease so they can continue to get a COLA. I’m guessing the COLA won’t keep pace with the taxes..

      • DidYouReallyMeanThat

        If you liked that one, scroll down for one I wrote earlier.

  • Tired of being beaten up

    Thanks for the tip on Amica. I will do so also.

  • Mr. Fish

    Great news. AMICA is next I hope.

  • GaryM

    For those on private sector pensions, what’s a vacation deal??

    • DidYouReallyMeanThat

      LOL! Too true.

    • Ttired of being beaten up too

      If you are an Amica retiree you are fortunate to enjoy generous retirement and healthcare benefits and a Colette trip would be something you could probably afford. Executives of Amica of course have further supplemental pension benefits-they could enjoy one of Colette’s privately escorted trips. The details of the retirement benefits are all available on the Amica web site for all to review. It is ironic, given the commitment to retirement security for their own staff and themselves, that these executives would be funding EngageRI.

      • GaryM

        Tired –

        Point well taken!

      • sasc

        what you don’t point out is that amica’s retirees are not being paid with taxpayer money, and do not receive the outrageous compounded COLA that state workers do! Why do we expect state workers to be treated differently than private workers, and low pay argument is not it, I know plenty of people who do not make even 40k a year and they have to contribute to a 401/and healthcare all on their own if they hope to retire. Also when the market tanks, their retirement $$ tanks unlike state workers who get a guaranteed monthly income no matter what has happened to the market, we, as taxpayers get to pick up the tab when we will not be able to retire ourselves . So can you see why they are fighting so hard-who wouldn’t? Having our state reach insolvency is not out of the question any more.
        Driving businesses and taxpayers out by asking more and more is a real problem, and what these workers put in should go to them, but not free health care and pensions worth tens of thousands of dollars more than they put in or made while they worked.

    • MARIE

      EVERYONE I KNOW OF THAT HAS TAKEN TRIPS SUCH AS WITH COLLETTE, ARE EMPOYED OR RETIRED IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR.

  • Snow

    If we boycotted the sponsors to the DiPetro show and other hate radio sponsors, there would soon be a change. We don’t effectively use our numbers the way we used to in the 70’s and 80’s, and this is a great first step!

  • Michelle

    Union bullies, grasping for straws. So, let me get this straight. In light of pensions being reduced, the unions are pulling another benefit offered by Collette to give union members 5% off travel services? Another shining example of the weak union financial acumen that got the state into this mess in the first place!

    I suggest Collette should make those same discounts available to the 16 chambers of commerce across the state, so the small business owner members (who don’t get a pension, BTW) can take advantage of a 5% discount. I’ll bet the numbers are similar, and Collette won’t miss a beat.

    • http://-- worked there...get real

      you are absolutely right @Michelle. the 16 COC in RI can make up for the loss of a huge national organization. he, he, he. Collette vacations has been heavy handed with their politics, including campaigning to employees as to how they should vote and whom they should boycott. It is just life, which keeps on moving.

  • Noah Vail

    The people at the NEA, by publicly severing their member benefit program with Collete Vacations, are trying to justify their fat compensation to their members.

  • ProJo Login

    I love the irony exhibited by some of these union posters, both here and in other forums. Here they are bragging about their ability to band together to hurt Rhode Island based private sector businesses who cross them, but others adopt a “What, who me?” attitude at the mere hint that the generous contracts and benefits they enjoy and which are now bankrupting the state were the result of collusion between labor backed politicians and union negotiators that resulted from, yes, them banding together and using their numbers. Anyone in Rhode Island not connected to a union (and many who are, just not deeply enough) should feel like a hostage. I am so glad all these folks care so deeply about the AMICA and Colletee employees who will be hurt by this nonsense. By all means, go ahead and boycott them. Then watch them lay people off and see the tax base to pay your pensions shrink even further. Brilliant idea folks.

  • Tom Johnson

    EngageRI was not on any ballot I received yet they seem to think they represent me and other Rhode Islanders.

    • eyeonprov

      and I’m not in a union but I am subject to their whims and expense. guess we’re even.

  • teddy

    Collette is an unprofessional and questionable place….

    I applied for a job there, 3 weeks later was asked for more info. for an interview, then was told they were no longer going to hire for the position.

    Was real shadey….

    • jeff

      “Collette is an unprofessional and questionable place….

      I applied for a job there, 3 weeks later was asked for more info. for an interview, then was told they were no longer going to hire for the position.

      Was real shadey….”

      Laughable post. We are talking about unions and you call a white night of a company unprofessional, questionable and shady. Perhaps you came accross a bit shady as well!

      • DidYouReallyMeanThat

        Jeff,

        Please stop hitting them with the truth. It has the same effect on them as holy water had on Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

      • teddy

        Oh, good one, Jeffery, now go back to your sandbox. Punk!

  • eyeonprov

    I think the state should just go into receivership, then all the union contracts will ne null and void and they can start from scratch. If the unions were that good you’d be able to keep your accrued pension even if you were fired, like tha private sctor does.

  • jeff

    Collette management obviously decided months ago that they didn’t need NEA RI’s business in deciding to “engage” – kudos to this fine company!

    However, the sad thing is, they also don’t need to be in RI, as a whopping 1% of their business that supports 300 jobs comes from within the state, per Mr. Galvin’s testimony at the Statehouse.

    Seems the unions and people of RI need Collette more than the unions believe that they do. What’s ironic about this is NEA-RI is making one huge PR blunder after another as they contribute to the public angst against organized labor.

    Oh and guess what, those of you upset with Amica, they don’t need RI either – but they have my business and their “absolutely fantastic…”

    Continue to show your true colors union leaders!

    • MARIE

      IT’S NOT JUST NEA’S BUSINESS THEY WILL LOSE IN RI-IT’S NATIONWIDE.
      LIKE THE GROUPS OF RETIRED TEACHERS WHO TOOK TRIPS WITH FROM PENNSYLVANIA,COLORODO,GEORGIA..
      AND THEY WILL LOSE POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS WHO SUPPORT WORKERS’ RIGHTS.

  • Cosmo

    Anyone who has read any of my previous posts knows that, to say the least, I’m not a fan of public employee unions. But in this particular case I have to say if they don’t want to spend their money with Collette, they have that right. Personally I say bravo to Collette and to Amica also. I have Amica insurance and now I have yet another reason to stay with them. Any other business that will support pension reform will also get my money.

  • jeff

    Hoping (well, really not hoping) that Bob Walsh realizes that he may have just opened up pandora’s box with their members, who may decide against supporting him as their so called leader.

    And, teachers want respect etc. from the public. Shed this bozo and other local leadership and you’ll be on your way to getting all the respect you could have ever wished for!

    Right to work is coming!

    • MARIE

      QUITE THE CONTRARY-HE HAS INSPIRED US TO NOT SUPPORT MEMBERS OF ENGAGERI.

  • DidYouReallyMeanThat

    The Public Employee Union Song (If I only had a brain)

    (Tin Man aka Union Members)

    We’d be thanking the taxpayer
    With a thoughtful worded prayer
    Time and time again

    We wouldn’t leave their mouths a gapin’
    With our Treasury a rapin’
    If we only had a brain

    Wouldn’t act like foolish gluttons
    Where we might end up with nuttin’
    Don’t we just seem quite insane?

    (Dorothy – aka taxpayer)
    You could maybe try some thinking
    ‘stead of raisin’ all yer stinkin’
    If you only had a brain

    (Union)
    Oh I…can’t tell you why,
    But one thing’s for damned sure
    We ask for things that no one’s got before
    And then we just….we ask for more!

    But we might end up with nuthin’
    If we keep huffin’ & puffin’
    And screamin’ “share the pain!”

    Oh this state could be so merry
    Without all us dingleberries
    Cuz we just don’t have a brain

  • Ron

    Pro Jo login and Michell well put comments Unions will only be happy if this State goes belly up and looks like its heading that way see you court.

  • Missing the point

    It seems that ALL of NEA is no longer doing business with Collette, not just the Rhode Island branch. That’s why it made the news.

  • MARIE

    KUDOS TO BOB WALSH!!
    I WROTE TO COLLETTE LAST WEEK WHEN I SAW THEM AS A MEMBER OF ENGAGERI!
    AS I WILL HAVE TO WORK UNTIL I AM 75 IN ORDER TO SEE 40% OF MY PENSION UNDER THIS PENDING ACT AND AS THERE WILL MOST LIKELY BE ZIPPO IN THE NEW HYBRID IRA WITH THE WORSENING ECONOMY- I WILL NEVER BE A POTENTIAL CUSTOMER OF THEIRS.

    • http://www.wpri.com/generic/news/local_news/indepth-news Ted Nesi

      Marie, how is it possible you’d have to work to age 75 to get a 40% defined benefit pension? The new retirement age is 67 at most, and if you are a current state worker (as is it sounds like you are), you would be able to get more than 40% in the defined benefit, plus your defined contribution account’s holdings.

  • MARIE

    TO DID YOU REALLY MEAN THAT-THE ONE WHO WROTE THE INFLAMMATORY “UNION SONG”-

    PLEASE TRY TO BE MORE INFORMED BEFORE YOU MAKE ASSUMPTIONS.
    START WITH THE STATE BUDGET-NEW DEPARTMENTS,NEW POSITIONS FOR NON UNION JOBS.
    TREASURY DEPT. PAYING ABOUT $5000/MONTH RENT FOR ANOTHER OFFICE BECAUSE THEY RAN OUT OF ROOM… GO INTO PORTAL GOV’T…

  • MARIE

    I WONDER IF THE WEALTH MANAGEMENT GROUP-MEMBER OF ENGAGERI WILL BE BENEFITING BY MANAGING THE STATE EMPLOYEES IRA…

  • MARIE

    MYSELF AND OTHERS JUST TOOK CROSSROADS OFF OUR DONATION LIST. WILL GIVE TO ANOTHER SIMILAR NON PROFIT AGENCY WHO IS NOT FOR IMPOVERISHING MORE SENIORS.

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